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May 07, 2021

Celebrating Our Military Spouses

by Thea Pitzen

Military Spouse Appreciation Day is observed in the United States on the Friday before Mother’s Day. In accordance with that tradition, President Biden has officially proclaimed Friday, May 7, 2021 as Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

As a military spouse myself, I was excited when the Biden administration recently reintroduced the Joining Forces initiative, which focuses on the needs of military families, specifically including (but certainly not limited to) military spouse employment. So, when I read the Presidential Proclamation on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I smiled at the recognition of Joining Forces and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, as these are issues and initiatives near and dear to my working military spouse heart.

The President also wrote in part that “Joining Forces calls upon on all Americans to support and harness the special skills, strengths, and experiences of military spouses.” When I read that part, I couldn’t help but feel grateful – specifically, today, for an employer who walks the walk when it comes to supporting and harnessing the skills, strengths, and experiences of military spouses.

As a Virginia law firm, Goodman Allen Donnelly has firm and proud ties to the military and veteran communities. Our Norfolk office shares its geographic location with the largest naval base in the world – Naval Station Norfolk – and overlooks the USS Wisconsin display ship. Our Charlottesville office shares its location with the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School. Our Veterans Benefits team has been serving veterans, retired military members, and their dependents for more than 20 years. And, nearly a quarter of the firm’s employees are either active duty military spouses, veteran spouses, or themselves military veterans. In a profession that is centered on service, I feel fortunate to practice with a firm that walks the walk both in terms of the clients it serves and the people it employs.

The past year has brought more than its share of challenges. Businesses and individuals across the nation and around the world have had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, to be flexible and creative in their problem solving and prioritizing, and perhaps most importantly, to show compassion and patience as everyone has learned to navigate work and life during a global pandemic. Even in the midst of great human suffering and uncertainty, there have been moments of strength and solidarity, as everyone – from clients to colleagues to competitors, from family and friends to strangers – has been in the same collective boat.

As I have navigated the past 14 months both personally and professionally, I have been thankful for many of the skills I have developed as a military spouse – among them, resiliency, flexibility, perseverance, and a sense of duty to a community beyond oneself. And I believe that when the White House calls upon Americans (and American employers) “to support and harness the special skills, strengths, and experiences of military spouses,” these are some of the skills, strengths, and experiences that ought to be recognized and valued in the workforce. I am particularly grateful on this Military Spouse Appreciation Day to work for a firm that both values those qualities in its employees and has shown them itself at every turn over the past year.

Throughout the pandemic, Goodman Allen Donnelly has kept its doors open (even if virtually at times), provided uninterrupted high quality client service, and worked daily to ensure the health and wellbeing of its employees. The flexible and forward-thinking mindset that has been necessary to achieve these goals will continue serve the firm and its clients well for many years to come.

More specific to the day at hand, more than 10% of the firm’s attorneys are also military spouses. I speak from experience when I say that the two roles do not always fit nicely hand-in-hand. In a profession not historically known for its portability, licensing hurdles and job searches can make it very difficult for a military spouse attorney to advance in his or her career while also supporting their spouse’s military career. But Goodman Allen Donnelly has shown itself to be a firm that recognizes and develops talent and, specifically, the “special skills, strengths, and experiences of military spouses.” I can think of no better way to show appreciation for military spouses.

Today, on behalf of Goodman Allen Donnelly, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all military spouses – those who are my colleagues, my peers, my friends, and my neighbors, and those who are unknown to me. Your service and dedication to your families, your communities, and your professions may not be recognized often enough, but do not go unnoticed. I invite everyone to join me today in celebrating military spouses and the vital role they play, and I challenge everyone in the coming year to recognize those special skills, strengths, and experiences of military spouses and to do what you can where you can to strengthen and harness them. You won’t regret it.

Goodman Allen Donnelly Attorney Thea Pitzen and her husband LCDR Wayne Pitzen

Goodman Allen Donnelly Attorney Thea Pitzen and her husband LCDR Wayne Pitzen