A few years ago, my daughter got in trouble at school and pleaded for mercy by explaining that she had to report home to an Army dad and a BigLaw lawyer mom. Worked like a charm. She definitely has an atypical upbringing for a Chicago kid. Less than 1% of the population serves and our experience is even more atypical.
As a military spouse of an Army National Guardsman, our family has never lived on base. My husband, Major Linden Allen, has served for more than 20 years, including tours to Iraq in ‘03 and ‘11, and Afghanistan in ’18. He will be returning in a couple weeks from a 10-month deployment to the Horn of Africa. Having never lived on base, I’ve found my military community in the USO and in Jenner & Block’s Veterans & Military Families Affinity Group.
I am active on the Illinois USO regional board and applaud the USO’s steadfast support of the military and military families around the world since 1941. Within Jenner & Block, our affinity group invites guest speakers and collaborates on public service and pro bono projects, including supporting the USO and the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network. I have also advocated for military spouse licensing accommodations.
Maintaining gainful employment as a military spouse is incredibly challenging when faced with constant changes of duty station (something I have not faced as a National Guard spouse). This is made all the more difficult by state licensing restrictions for teachers, nurses, lawyers, and other professions. I know military spouses who have taken the bar exam 5 times (shout out to the Military Spouse JD Network!). For this and so many other reasons, veteran and military spouse employment should be considered though a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens.
There are so many ways to support our veterans, but in the words of President John F. Kennedy, Jr, “as we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words but to live by them.”
This Veterans Day, thank you to all who have served this country. We are the home of the free because of the brave.