Joining Forces This Mother's Day

Today, I had the pleasure of addressing the Mother's Day brunch for military moms and families hosted by the Association of the United States Army. My comments were about Joining Forces and our efforts to support veteran and military families. In addition to being a Commander in the United States Navy, I am also a military spouse and a military mom to three wonderful, and rather rambunctious, small children.

My message was clear to the families in the audience:

Overwhelmingly our nation recognizes that our service members and our veterans have made many sacrifices through their service, but so have their families. Every military spouse and every military child, each of you has served our country too. You have made sacrifices and you have endured uncertainty in your own lives in order for our military to be able to do its job ensuring the freedom of every person in this great Nation. Your sacrifices and your service are the reason that the First Lady and Dr. Biden created Joining Forces.

Joining Forces was launched three years ago to ensure that all of our veterans and military families get the benefits, support and respect that they have earned and that they deserve. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden have called upon all sectors of society to step up and support veterans and military families. Across our Nation, public, private and nonprofit organizations are answering that call in the areas of employment, education, wellness, and beyond.

In August of 2011, President Obama challenged businesses to hire or train 100,000 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. Companies across the country answered that call, quickly reaching and surpassing that goal. Just weeks ago down at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Mrs. Obama announced that companies answering that call have now hired more than 540,000 veterans and military spouses. In just 3 years, that is more than half a million veterans and military spouses hired. At Fort Campbell, Mrs. Obama also announced the launch of a comprehensive new employment center online tool hosted on the ebenefits.va.gov website. This tool will allow you to find companies that have made commitments to hire veterans and military spouses and it will also alloy you to post your resume for those companies to see.

Two years ago, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden challenged governors to pass legislation in all states that supports military spouse professional license portability…As of today 44 states have passed some sort of legislation supporting license portability for military spouses.

Education is another pillar of Joining Forces where we have seen results:

Veterans and military families are using the GI Bill to go to school and to train for new careers; we recently celebrated the one-millionth GI Bill beneficiary. Just last week, Dr. Biden spoke about the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, which is improving the caliber of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at our military-serving schools. Since its inception in 2010, it has expanded from just four schools in two states to over seventy schools today in eighteen states.

Last month, the First Lady and Dr. Biden also made several announcements:

  • The Department of Defense is creating in-person caregiver peer forums at every military installation that serves wounded warriors and their caregivers around the world, as well as creating online connection tools for caregivers who aren't able to attend in-person.
  • In addition to government support for military caregivers, private organizations such as the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, among others, have committed to train 10,000 caregiving peer mentors nationwide.

So today I want to say thank you to each one for your service to our country, especially you military moms. Happy Mother's Day!

Commander Cara LaPointe, U.S. Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady.

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