The invitation from The White House arrived this week, and it wasn’t for me.
Fortunately I was well represented in Washington by my EMC colleague Sarah Dutile, and I could not have been prouder as Michelle Obama shared Sarah’s story of being a working military spouse. Sarah attended the fifth anniversary of the Joining Forces Initiative. Launched in 2011 by The First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, Joining Forces brings the public and private sectors together to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.
As part of the Joining Forces initiative, EMC and 49 other leading companies will create specific job opportunities for veterans during the next five years. I’m also proud that we will create more stories like Sarah’s. While the contributions of service member and veteran employees are easy to see, the support of military spouses is sometimes overlooked or underestimated. As a Talent Operations Manager in Human Resources, Sarah found a winning combination of opportunity, flexibility and career progression. When relocations of her Army Captain husband could have presented obstacles, Sarah worked closely with her manager to be on the job from anywhere. Where many people would find chaos, Sarah thrived.
Sarah’s personal initiative and detailed technical knowledge of EMC’s recruiting systems made her a valuable resource to her team, wherever she happened to be. She now serves as the subject matter expert and system administrator for the recruiting software used by our recruiters around the world. Through multiple relocations as well as her husband Mike’s overseas deployments, EMC has been a source of stability and growth. Sarah’s skills have even earned her a promotion — she now manages a team of her own and is learning a new level of leadership.
For EMC, it was never a question of whether she would keep her job; but focusing instead on how to connect and engage her. When relocations took her to Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia and Washington, she found new ways to bring greater value to her team and her company. During one of Mike’s deployments, we identified her as a resource to help improve operations for recruiting in Europe and sent her to London on a four-month rotation.
As a result of her work at EMC, both Sarah and Mike have been able to enjoy successful careers in their chosen fields. Both have been ‘decorated’ – Sarah has received five awards from her managers and peers, while Mike is about to take command of a company within the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, Washington. Her success has prompted Sarah to give back, and she will soon serve as leader of a U.S. Army Family Readiness Group in Fort Lewis Washington. After joining the group during one of Mike’s previous assignments, Sarah quickly found a network of support and understanding during deployments and difficult training cycles. She hopes to inspire and encourage other military spouses to realize their full potential and career opportunities while moving around the country.
The Joining Forces Initiative brings attention to the unique needs and strength of America’s military families. Since the launch of the Joining Forces initiative in 2011, more than 1.2 million veterans and military spouses have been hired. Over 300 companies participate in the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and more than 90,000 military spouses have been hired.
Numbers are impressive, but stories like Sarah’s and Mike’s bring home the importance of this initiative. Our service members, veterans and their families make us strong. Joining Forces makes us stronger.