Thank you very much, appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you, Leslie. I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Family Liaison Office. I’m sorry that Diana’s not with us today, but she actually is traveling through – to El Salvador and Mexico as we speak and should be back by the end of the week.
On behalf of the entire Department of State, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to each of you for all of the important work that this office has done in the past 30 years and will continue to do long into the future. The Foreign Service is not just a career or a job. It’s very much a way of life. Diana and I understand how difficult and demanding this way of life can be. Through overseas posts and assignments here in Washington, through separated tours and hardship posts, I have benefitted from my family’s incredible support. Diana and I have been a team raising our five children, as was mentioned, around the world and dealing with the challenges that face every Foreign Service family.
The Foreign Service family, and by that, I mean the broad community of employees and family members and significant others who support them, is the backbone of America’s diplomatic presence overseas. Supporting our Foreign Service families remains a profound and personal calling for me and it continues to be a central priority for the Department of State, thanks to the good work of our Family Liaison Office. In 1978, with the commitment of a few dedicated individuals, the Family Liaison Office was formally established within the Department to improve the quality of life for Foreign Service families abroad. And people like you have been serving that important role for three decades now.
The individuals gathered here today do vital and important work. You work with spouses to find meaningful and fulfilling employment. You support both officers serving at unaccompanied posts and their loved ones at home. You coordinate with parents to overcome the challenges of educating their children in a new environment and helping parents find an appropriate school for children with special needs. You help employees and family members who have experienced an evacuation and anyone who has had to face the difficulties that life in the Foreign Service can present.
Through isolated, demanding, and dangerous posts, the good people in the Family Liaison Office are the best allies that families could have. And the work of the Office is never really done. Constantly looking for better ways to serve their client base, these individuals have adjusted initiatives and altered programs to reflect the changing needs of our Foreign Service officers and their families. New issues and concerns will always arise and I’m delighted to say that this office is ready to address them.
So it’s – again, it’s an honor for me to be here to celebrate all that the Family Liaison Office has been able to do in the last 30 years and I’m confident that all of you are ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century Foreign Service and that because of you, the Foreign Service will rise to those challenges in the years ahead. Thank you very much.
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