WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 22, 2008) - Five corporations vowed to help Soldiers' wives and husbands find work by joining forces with the Army Spouse Employment Partnership during the Association of United States Army's annual meeting at the Washington Convention Center.

Black & Veatch Corporation, Convergys Corporation, EMC Corporation, Lowe's Corporation and West Corporation signed a statement of support Oct. 6 to join 27 other companies in a partnership designed to enhance employment opportunities for spouses of military members while fulfilling America's demand for skilled workers.

"Today marks a significant milestone for Army spouses and for the Department of the Army," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Policy Oversight Dr. Lynn Heirakuji, ASEP chairperson. "You do this voluntarily because it makes good business sense. You do this because it's the right thing to do."

Corporate partners provided more than 8,000 jobs for Army spouses in 2008 alone.

"Over the past 12 months I've visited many Army posts, some overseas, and I've talked to a lot of Army spouses, and I can personally attest to the fact that Army spouses are a highly skilled, dedicated and resilient group of individuals," Heirakuji said. "I can also attest that Army spouses are deeply appreciative of the support that the Army and the ASEP partners have given them.

"My dad is a disabled veteran of World War II and he has talked to me many times of how far the Army and the American community have come over the past 60 years in its support of not only Soldiers, but of Soldiers' Families and Soldiers' spouses, who are typically their lifeline to emotional and sometimes financial stability."

Ronald James, the deputy assistant secretary of Manpower and Reserve Affairs, represented the Department of the Army by signing the statement of support alongside the new corporate partners' representatives.

"I can't tell you that this in fact is just a very good thing," James said. "This is a great thing."

The Army Spouse Employment Partnership was created in May 2002 when then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki directed the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center to establish and enhance collaborative partnerships with public and private sector companies to create career and training opportunities for military spouses. ASEP has since provided more than 41,000 jobs for military spouses.

(Tim Hipps writes for FMWRC Public Affairs.)