The White House Blog: Dr. Jill Biden
- Posted byon January 26, 2012 at 7:59 PM EST
Last Friday, I was honored to spend the day with Marines and families preparing for deployment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It was a very special day. As Second Lady, there is nothing I enjoy more than visiting our military and their families. I am honored that they share their successes, pride, and challenges with me, and that when I bring their concerns back to the White House, they help shape policy. But as a military mom, these visits are also personal. Each Marine I met on Friday is someone’s son or daughter, and I know well the mixture of pride and worry a family member feels when a loved one is preparing to go to war.
In the morning, I visited with Marines in combat training at the Infantry Immersion Trainer. I viewed a combat simulation exercise at the state-of-the art facility that is designed to resemble an Afghan village, down to every detail. The training is intended to prepare deploying Marines for the stress of combat. The visit made a deep and lasting impression on me, and it was a firm reminder of what our troops and their families sacrifice for us every single day – half a world away. After the simulation, I met with Female Engagement Team members preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. These young women go on foot patrols with Marine infantry units on the front lines in Afghanistan to interact with Afghan women and girls. I was inspired by their courage and determination, and their pride in what they do.
Our next stop was Family Day with members of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company and their families. The EOD team performs missions in extremely dangerous conditions, and they have very high injury rates. Almost all of the EOD team members I met are married, and many have young children – who also sacrifice every day while their Marines are in harm’s way. After lunch, I stopped at the EOD “hero wall,” a photo memorial honoring fallen Marines and Sailors. I will never forget their faces. One Marine – speaking of a fallen warrior – told me “he saved my life.”
- Posted byon January 17, 2012 at 9:26 PM EST
Today, the President and First Lady hosted the St. Louis Cardinals at the White House to congratulate the team on its World Series win last year.
The Cardinals, who President Obama called “the greatest comeback team in the history of baseball,” made the playoffs after rallying from a ten and a half game deficit with just 31 games left in the regular season. At one point, the team had less than a 4 percent chance of even making the playoffs.
The Series itself was an unforgettable one, the President said:
Of course, the most memorable moment was Game Six of the World Series. I’ve got to say, that has to be one of the best baseball games of all time. Unbelievable game. I will tell you guys, I had a bunch of early-morning stuff the next day, and you kept me up. It was painful waking up the next morning. But what an incredible game.
- Posted byon January 16, 2012 at 3:10 PM EST
Today, President Obama, the First Lady, and Malia Obama volunteered at a local elementary school as part of a national day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King, who devoted his life to helping others, once said that “everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
Before pitching in to help clean, paint, and organize the school’s library, the President spoke to other volunteers from Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Greater DC Cares gathered for the event:
There’s nobody who can’t serve. Nobody who can’t help somebody else. And whether you’re seven or six or whether you’re 76, then you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community.
The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also joined the millions of Americans participating in service events around the country. They traveled to Philadelphia to take part in the 17th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in the nation.
- Posted byon January 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM EST
Two years ago today, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, causing catastrophic damage inside and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Nearly a quarter of a million lives were lost, more than 300,000 people were injured, and more than a million people were left homeless.
In the two years since the disaster, Americans have joined people from all over the world to help Haiti recover and rebuild. A U.S. Coast Guard team, a disaster assistance response team, and portions of two U.S. urban search and rescue teams were on the ground 24 hours after the earthquake. In the weeks and months that followed, one in every two American households sent contributions to Haiti. With the support of the United States and the help of partner organizations, the Haitian government has led an effort to ensure people have better access to water, food, and medical care than ever before. Many organizations remain in the country today to continue this work.
- Posted byon December 30, 2011 at 3:30 PM EST
Joining Forces was launched earlier this year with one simple goal: Letting the men and women who serve our country – and their families -- know, as First Lady Michelle Obama says, “People care about you, they care about what you have done.”
The response to this initiative has been tremendous, with individuals and organizations from across the country joining in to say “thank you” – with commitments around hiring veterans, with commitments to increase access to wellness opportunities and with invitations for our active and retired servicemen and women – and their families – to participate in special events.
Recently, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden joined some of those families at a NASCAR race in Miami, Florida. It was a once in a lifetime experience for everyone who was there, but as Dr. Biden points out, making a difference isn’t that difficult, especially around the holidays. “Reach out to a military family and say, come on over and have dinner with us. This is the perfect time to extend an act of kindness.”
- Posted byon December 13, 2011 at 5:50 PM EST
The mood was merry when Dr. Jill Biden hosted a fourth-grade class from White Oaks Elementary School in Burke, Virginia at the Vice President’s Residence on Monday, Dec. 12. The festive event focused on helping children understand the challenges faced by military families during the holiday season.
Dr. Biden talked to students about the importance of supporting classmates whose parents are serving in the military, particularly around the holidays. After describing her own experience as a military mom when her son, Army Major Beau Biden of the Delaware National Guard, was deployed in Iraq for a year, Dr. Biden introduced Army Colonel Rebecca Porter, who talked about the impact deployment has on military families.
The students then moved to the library where they heard from Major James Blain – the father of classmate Jimmy Blain – who is currently deployed in Afghanistan. Working with a program called United Through Reading, Major Blain read Mickey’s Christmas Carol to the class, via a pre-recorded DVD. Major Blain’s wife, Tina, brought their other three children – Josephine, Anna Mae and Matthew – to the event. Mrs Blaine said the recordings created through United Through Reading were an important way for families to stay in touch during deployments. When Major Blain appeared on screen, Matthew immediately called out, “Daddy! Daddy!”
As part of its support for First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative, United Through Reading last week announced a pledge to double its commitment to U.S. Army and National Guard families in the next two years.
After the story, students made cards for military service members and enjoyed a surprise visit from Santa.
- Posted byon December 9, 2011 at 3:55 PM EST
Officially, Hanukkah doesn't begin for another 11 days -- but last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to kick things off a little early with a celebration of the holiday at the White House.
They were joined by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance, along with Israel's Ambassardor to the United States Michael Oren, the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, and a large group of faith and community leaders.
Hanukkah, the President said, is "an opportunity to recognize the miracles in our own lives:"
Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today. Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world. Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.
This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.
- Posted byon November 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM EST
On Wednesday, October 25th, Mom Bloggers from the ONE campaign came to the White House to meet with Dr. Jill Biden, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Gayle Smith, Special Assistant and Senior Director for Development and Democracy in the National Security Staff.
Bonded by their experiences from their recent trips to Africa, the participants spoke about the ongoing crisis in the Horn of Africa. Dr. Biden, who had recently travelled to Kenya with Administrator Shah and Smith, listened to the Mom Bloggers as they described their encounters with women and children in the troubled region. Dr. Shah highlighted specific issues and described what USAID has done to address some of these concerns. Smith urged the Mom Bloggers to continue to bring attention to the issue by talking about their experiences and helping Americans recognize that there are more commonalities than differences between us and those suffering in the Horn. For more information on the Crisis in the Horn of Africa, visit the USAID website to learn about the FWD Campaign.
Dr. Biden, Dr. Shah and Gayle Smith meet with Mom Bloggers in the Roosevelt Room, Oct. 25, 2011. (Photo by Ashita Ganguly)
- Posted byon November 15, 2011 at 10:39 AM EST
Friday was a special day, as we paid tribute to our Nation’s Veterans. My husband Joe and I attended a Veterans Day parade in Media, Pennsylvania. That evening in New York, I was honored to attend the dedication of a statue created to commemorate the United States military’s response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The 16-foot tall bronze statue entitled De Oppresso Liber (“to liberate the oppressed”) – the motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces – depicts a soldier on horseback in honor of the first Special Forces unit that rode into combat in the mountains of Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. Upon completion of the 9/11 Memorial, the statue will be permanently located at the World Trade Center site.
Our veterans and their families show us every day just what words like “strength” and “courage” mean. And these special operators are no exception. Joe and I met with several of them before the dedication ceremony. I was in awe of the group – many of whom have continued to serve. And as we chatted with them, I couldn’t help but think of their families too – and the fear their parents, spouses, and children must have felt watching them leave without knowing where they were going or when they would come home. I met one young woman in her early twenties who remembers her father leaving for Afghanistan for the first time in 2001. Since then, she has watched him leave for deployment countless times, and she has spent nearly half her life worrying about him. But like all military families I have met, she is fiercely proud of his service. Her father is her hero.
We must never forget the sacrifices of our troops and their families – at home and abroad. This statue serves as a reminder of the very first brave soldiers who rushed into harm’s way in response to the attacks on 9/11 – and of their families, to whom Afghanistan was a dangerous unknown. On Veterans Day and every day, it is our duty to show appreciation for the service of our military community and to remember that each of us has the ability to make a difference in the life of a military family.
Dr. Jill Biden is the Second Lady of the United States.
- Posted byon November 4, 2011 at 4:47 PM EST
Earlier today, Dr. Jill Biden delivered a passionate and powerful address at the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 National Convention of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
She began her remarks with an inspiring story:
I recently read an open letter written from a PFLAG father to America’s youth. He wrote, “My wife and I have two sons. We think that they are the best kids in the whole world. They’re very different, with very diverse personalities, talents, and interests. One of the other things that makes them different is that one is straight and one is gay. But the important thing is this: we love them equally.”
At its core – it’s such a simple message – “we love our sons” – both of them. But that acceptance and support can make all the difference.
And as you all know well – acceptance by those you love is the greatest acceptance of all.