JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Second Lady Karen Pence and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia visited Jacksonville on Wednesday to launch a new employee assistance program for military spouses, pet some K9s and sip some coffee.
Pence spoke to military spouses at NAS Jacksonville to launch the Transition Employment Assistance for Military Spouses (TEAMS) Program. It is designed to help military spouses advance their careers through training, workshops, and networking tailored to their unique circumstances.
While in the River City, Pence also stopped by K9s for Warriors to learn about their work addressing veteran suicides and stopped by a veteran-owned coffee shop in Springfield.
Over a pumpkin spice latte and some homemade pastries, Pence brought out some gifts. The owner of Social Grounds, Jason Kelloway, was presented a Second Lady coin and his wife and co-owner Mandi Kelloway was given a bracelet for military spouses.
“It is an incredible honor," Mandi Kelloway said. "You just never expect something like that will happen.”
“Just from a standpoint of support from our government, especially what’s going on right now, for a small business to get that honor for what we’re doing with veterans' mental health and in our community," Jason Kelloway said.
Pence got emotional talking about her son-in-law, Henry, who is a Navy pilot. She asked for some of Social Grounds' special Warrior Blend the shop makes in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project so she could ship it to Henry overseas.
Pence’s visit supports her ongoing campaign to elevate and encourage military spouses while also recognizing their unique employment challenges.
In promoting the program, Pence noted military families move, on average, every two to three years because of military assignments creating the need for spouses to constantly readjust to new state licensing laws and fees for training, certificates, and applications. TEAMS is set up to help assist with these challenges.
Pence’s second stop in town was visiting K9s for Warriors in Ponte Vedra Beach
“Because Mrs. Pence is such a fan of K9s For Warriors, she wanted to come to see what we’re doing,” said City Councilman and K9s For Warriors CEO Rory Diamond. “She is also is in charge of a national effort to stop veteran suicide and wanted to see how we have been so successful.”