MIGHTY 25: Cailin Crockett is making waves for military families on National Security Council
Cailin Crockett has spent her career dedicated to underserved communities and preventing violence against women. Now, she’s directing her passion for helping the military community, too.
“I am really lucky to be the Director of Military Personnel Policy at the National Security Council and that means I am on the broader team of Joining Forces. We coordinate policy that is intended to improve quality of life and promote equity for military families,” Crockett explained.
Though she doesn’t have any personal experience serving in the military, her grandfather fought in World War II on loan from the U.S. Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) for the Royal Air Force in Britain.
“His service had a great impact on my mother’s, aunt’s and grandmother’s lives,” Crockett added.
It was always a dream for her to go into public service as she’s been a passionate advocate for social justice and equity. This led to a need to understand the nexus between social policy, national security and the role the United States plays in the world.
Crockett earned her Bachelor of Arts at UCLA in Political Science and her Master’s of Political Theory from Oxford. She followed that up with a second Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins. In between studying, she worked for the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.
When she was asked to join the National Security Council and advise on quality of life issues for service members and their families it was an easy yes.
Crockett shared, “I feel so incredibly lucky to have found a calling by working in the military personnel policy space because of how we equip people volunteering to wear our uniform. We want them to succeed and to retain their careers to feel like their contributions to service are valued, based on their merit. For service women in particular, ensuring they have a way of balancing a career with the choice of whether to have a family is important.”
As she explored the various issues, the challenges for military spouses (who are predominantly women) were obvious.
“The work that I've been focused on since the start of the [Biden] Administration has been on reducing barriers to service for all people and particularly for women in uniform. Whether it's transforming how our military justice system responds to gender-based violence, improving access to to child care or supporting women's health,” Crockett explained. “So many of these issues are linked. For example, economic security is a protective factor for families that may be experiencing stressors and at risk for abuse. And for service women, who are more likely to be in a dual military couple, lack of affordable child care can lead to early separation from the force. All of this really ties in in one way or another to work that I'm passionate about.”
When the Administration and Dr. Biden made a promise to tackle military spouse employment challenges which lend to economic risk factors, it led to a partnership with Navy spouse and VA attorney Elizabeth “Libby” Jamison.
For over a year, the duo and a dedicated team at Joining Forces worked tirelessly on an executive order that would change everything for military spouses. In June, she stood beside Jamison as President Biden signed the Executive Order on Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors.
“It was really special to share it with Libby. We had traded edits on the document back and forth, many late nights together. So to be there with her at Fort Liberty for the signing was really special,” Crockett shared.
The Executive Order puts protections in place for military spouses employed at the federal level and a deeper commitment to ensuring access to quality, affordable childcare. It also addresses dual military couples and the challenges associated balancing two military careers and the demands of service. Within the order lies a strategic plan President Biden committed to, in order to strengthen the economic prosperity of the military family.
“As a civilian involved in military personnel policy for the past several years, it has just really emphasized to me more and more the divide between the military and the civilian community. Not even a full 1% of the population volunteers to serve and I think the 99% of us who don't, including policymakers, can take that for granted,” Crockett said. “As a result, when we're talking about economic policy or social policy, or even gender equity issues, typically, the military community isn't really a part of this conversation. That hasn't been the case for the Biden-Harris Administration. We’re changing that.”
To follow Crockett and learn more about her work, click here.