Second Lady Karen Pence drew upon “heroes like Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone” during her Wednesday speech at the Republican National Convention, dedicating her speech to the “heroes of our land” including military spouses and veterans.
Pence talked about her experience as part of a military family and said one of her key initiatives as second lady has been “to elevate and encourage military spouses.”
“Military spouses may experience frequent moves, job changes, periods of being a single parent while their loved one is deployed — all while exhibiting pride, strength, and determination and being a part of something bigger than themselves,” she said. “To all of the military spouses, thank you.”
Pence then detailed her experience meeting women like Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse as she traveled across the country to promote employment initiatives for military spouses.
“These military spouses decided to start their own business, R. Riveter, named after the Rosie the Riveter campaign used to recruit women workers during World War II,” Pence said of Bradley and Cruse. “R. Riveter makes beautiful handbags designed and manufactured exclusively by military spouses.”
Pence also told the story of Jilan Hall-Johnson, a military spouse in Billings, Montana, who worked with the Small Business Administration’s Development Center to start her own restaurant, the Sassy Biscuit.
The second lady then spoke about her initiative promoting art therapy for veterans struggling with mental health. “Art therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, is especially effective with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” she said.
Pence told the story of Master Gunnery Sergeant Chris Stowe, a Marine veteran deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan who said “nothing had helped him deal with the trauma from his service” until he agreed to art therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center.
“Chris credits art therapy with saving his marriage and his life. And Chris went on to establish a glass blowing workshop to help other vets,” Pence said. (RELATED: Helping Veterans Through The Taboo Of PTSD)
The second lady also said her experience with Sidney Morgan, a veteran who helps operate the Veterans Crisis Line, had a big impact on her. “Sidney said it is the highest honor of her life to hold a veteran’s hand every step of the way until they physically walk into a clinic to receive help they deserve,” she said.
Throughout her speech, Pence referred to veterans and military spouses as “heroes.” She also praised the work done by healthcare workers, teachers and law enforcement officers, among other professionals. “Heroes all!” she said.