The White House Blog: Dr. Jill Biden

  • Honoring Hispanic Heritage

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host a Hispanic Heritage Month Reception

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host a Hispanic Heritage Month reception at the Naval Observatory Residence, in Washington, D.C., September 29, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Last week, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted a reception at the Naval Observatory to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and recognize the outstanding contributions of Hispanic Americans across the military, government and private sector.  As Social Secretary to the Vice President and Dr. Biden, I was pleased to open up the doors of the Vice President’s residence for this special occasion – the third Hispanic Heritage reception they have hosted at their home.

    The Vice President spoke before a crowd that included veterans and active duty service members, as well as Hispanic business leaders from around the nation. Noting the particular influence of Hispanic immigrants on American society, Vice President Biden said, “we have never once in our history not been stronger and richer and more vibrant as a consequence of the waves of immigration. … it is the thing that enriches us.”

    The reception also recognized the continuing sacrifice and dedication of Hispanic American service members, with veterans from the Vietnam War to the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in attendance.


  • Famine in the Horn of Africa: Be a Part of the Solution

    Dr. Jill Biden on the Late Show with David Letterman

    Dr. Biden and David Letterman refer to a map of Africa while discussing the Somalia famine relief efforts. (Photo from the Late Show with David Letterman)

    Last Monday, the U.S. Agency for International Development, in partnership with the Ad Council, launched a public awareness campaign called “FWD” – standing for Famine, War, Drought - to draw the attention to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. 

    The campaign is calling on Americans to FWD the Facts.  FWD them to your friends, FWD them to your neighbors, FWD them to everyone you know. 

    A few of the facts: 

    • More than 13 million people are in crisis – making this the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
    • More than 700,000 people have fled from their homes in Somalia to Ethiopia and Kenya – creating the world’s largest refugee camps.
    • 1 child is dying every 6 minutes in Somalia.
    • More than 750,000 people are projected to perish from starvation in Somalia within the next four months if humanitarians are not allowed access in to southern Somalia. 


  • 17 Years After Violence Against Women Act, Vice President Calls on New Generation to Take Action

    Last night, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden held a reception at the Naval Observatory to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) being signed into law, as well as call on a new generation to take action to reduce the high rates of violence and assault that continues to threaten young men and women across the country.

    Speaking before a crowd that included many of the men and women who supported the Vice President’s efforts to see the Act become law on September 13, 1994, the Vice President remarked on how it was VAWA that exposed a “flaw that lay as part of the fabric of American society”– the fact that the mere discussion of violence and abuse being committed against women was considered by many to be taboo.

    Beyond shattering this notion, the law redefined the way domestic violence is handled through changes in law enforcement, improvements in the criminal justice system and the establishment of shelters and services for victims.


  • Be Part of the Joining Forces Community Challenge

    I’m writing today about a very special project, the Joining Forces Community Challenge.

    In that past few years, the First Lady and I have seen incredible examples of people and organizations reaching out to our military families in creative and meaningful ways.  Individuals and groups are coming together in communities all across this country to make a difference in the lives of our service members by hosting baby showers, providing free accounting help during tax season, or recognizing military families during community events.  As an Army mom, I am especially grateful for this outreach.

    To recognize and celebrate these individuals and organizations, the First Lady and I launched the Joining Forces Community Challenge earlier this summer.  The challenge will award several national prizes later this year that recognize citizens and organizations for their efforts in support of military families.

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Greet People at the Warrior and Family Support Center

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden greet people while visiting the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, Texas, April 13, 2011. The First Lady and Dr. Biden met with service members and their families during their visit to the facility, which helps care for family members of Wounded Warriors whose recovery is expected to last a long period of time. The center was built with private donations and is run by volunteers from the surrounding community. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


  • Observing the Tenth Anniversary of September 11

    This weekend, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden remembered those who were lost in the attacks on September 11, 2001. September 11th has been designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance and the First Family started the weekend by joining Americans from across the country in participating in service projects to honor those whose lives were taken ten years ago.

    On Saturday, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden were joined by President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and former First Lady Laura Bush in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to participate in a dedication ceremony for the first phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial.

    Watch a glimpse of the Memorial with the Vice President and Dr. Biden here.


  • The Humanitarian Crisis in Africa: How You Can Help

    Watch the video on the humanitarian crisis in Africa.

    Dr. Jill Biden and the US officials who joined her on a trip to a refugee center in Kenya want the American people to understand how severe the crisis caused by a combination of drought, famine and war has become, especially on the most vulnerable population, the children of Somalia.

    “It touched my heart,” said Dr. Biden about reading the news and seeing the footage of the spreading humanitarian crisis, “as a mother, I watched these children … saw them starving and thought, we have to do something.” Earlier this week, she traveled to the Dadaab refugee complex in Eastern Kenya, where approximately 420,000 people who have fled war-torn Somalia in search of food, water and shelter, are currently living in a tented city originally built to accommodate 90,000.

    Former U.S. Senator Bill Frist, another member of the delegation, says more must be done to help famine victims. "A lot of people don't realize, especially in this environment of what's happening in terms of the economy here and at home, that this is the most acute food security emergency anywhere in the world now and in recent years," he said.


  • On the Ground in the Horn of Africa

    Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the USAID Impact blog.

    Eighty kilometers from Kenya’s border with Somalia, the Dadaab Refugee Complex—already the world’s largest refugee camp—has seen on average 1,500 exhausted and starving men, women and children arrive each day.  Fleeing from famine that is now gripping a large portion of southern Somalia largely inaccessible to aid workers, thousands of refugees have walked days—or even weeks—to reach help.  The United Nations estimates that over 12.4 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, including food, water and medical care, across the drought-stricken eastern Horn of Africa.

    Yesterday, I arrived in Dadaab with representatives from across the United States Government, including Dr. Jill Biden, Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith, Senator Bill Frist and Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz.  The trip underscored the commitment of the U.S. Government—the single largest donor in the region—to respond to the immediate crisis with life-saving assistance and investments in long-term solutions to hunger. Ultimately, we know that it is smarter and cheaper to invest in food security than face the consequences of famine and food riots.


  • Dr. Jill Biden Arrives in Kenya

    Dr. Jill Biden and Senator Bill Frist Visit Dagahaley Refugee Camp in Kenya

    Dr. Jill Biden and Senator Bill Frist visit the Dagahaley refugee camp, in Dadaab, Kenya. August 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Today, Dr. Biden traveled to Kenya where relief operations are underway to help the thousands of refugees affected by the devastating famine in Somalia. Visiting with women and children at the Dadaab Refugee Complex, Dr. Biden – joined by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz, and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith– witnessed firsthand the effects of one of worst droughts in 60 years and the resulting famine in Somalia. 29,000 children under the age of five have died in the past three months and more than 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are in urgent need of care. Emergency assistance and investments in long-term development are saving lives and making a difference. Visit www.USAID.gov to learn more and find organizations that are doing life-saving work in the region.

    Dr. Jill Biden Talks With USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah at Dagahaley Refugee Camp

    Dr. Jill Biden talks with USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah at the Dagahaley refugee camp, in Dadaab, Kenya. August 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    Courtney O'Donnell is Communications Director for Dr. Jill Biden.


  • A Joining Forces Cookout with Military Families

    Military Family Cookout at the New Hampshire National Guard Headquarters

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden visit with Gold Star families, Blue Star families, and service members and their families during a Military Family Cookout at the New Hampshire National Guard headquarters in Concord, N.H., July 24, 2011. The event was part of the Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Nothing says summer like a cookout and this past weekend First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined military families at the New Hampshire National Guard Headquarters in Concord for just that. Dr. Biden kicked things off by sharing her experience as a military mom:

    My son, Beau, is a Captain in the Delaware Army National Guard and he recently spent a year in Iraq, so I know well the challenges that Guard families face when their soldiers are away.  And I also know how much it means when communities rally around family members who are managing in their soldier’s absence.

    The First Lady and I came here today for a very simple reason: to say thank you to all of you for all of your service.  You and your family -- service members around the country and the world inspire us with your strength and your resilience, and that applies especially to the family members of all ages who are here today.

    The First Lady and I are working hard through our “Joining Forces” initiative to make sure that every American understands the sacrifices that each of you as family members are making for the security of our nation.

    And we hope to inspire more communities around the country to reach out to military families like we are doing tonight in Concord and like I saw in Portsmouth...earlier today.

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at a Military Family Cookout

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden visit with Gold Star families, Blue Star families, and service members and their families during a Military Family Cookout at the New Hampshire National Guard headquarters in Concord, N.H., July 24, 2011. The event was part of the Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    The First Lady and Dr. Biden have been inspired by traveling the country and seeing how Americans are stepping up to support our military members and their families. That is why they just announced the Joining Forces Community Challenge, which will recognize individuals and groups around the country who are making a difference in the lives of military families. As the First Lady said at the cookout, those who serve and their families represent the very best of America:

    All of you are perfect examples of the 9/11 Generation. You’ve gone through unprecedented deployments. You’ve helped to defend our security through a decade of war. And you’ve strengthened our country not just as National Guardsmen and Reservists, but as teachers and as firefighters and businessmen and women, as well.

    You represent the very best of America –- a devotion to family, to community, and to country. And I just want to tell you that Jill and I could not be more inspired by all of you.

    You all are the reasons why Jill and I have launched this nationwide initiative that we’re calling Joining Forces because we want this entire country to recognize, and honor, and support our military members and their families. We want you to know that this country has your back.

    First Lady Michelle Obama meets with a Family at a Joining Forces Cookout

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden visit with Gold Star families, Blue Star families, and service members and their families during a Military Family Cookout at the New Hampshire National Guard headquarters in Concord, N.H., July 24, 2011. The event was part of the Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


  • Introducing the Joining Forces Community Challenge

    Dr Jill Biden Attends Operation Thank You!

    Dr. Biden visits with members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing in New Hampshire at a military appreciation event July 24, 2011. (by New Hampshire National Guard)

    Yesterday Dr. Jill Biden had the chance to participate in an annual event called “Operation Thank You!” in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Launched in 2004 as a way to thank and honor the military and their families for all of their sacrifice, Operation Thank You! has grown into one of the most successful military appreciation events in New England – raising funds and giving thousands of military families a day of well-deserved fun and recognition. 

    Dr. Biden spoke to the crowd and met with many of the families in attendance, and she thanked the various sponsors and organizers for doing their part. The event was a great example of the types of action and outreach we are trying to encourage around the country through the Joining Forces initiative.  To make Operation Thank You! a success, businesses, nonprofit organizations, religious groups and individuals from the local community stepped up and offered services and support.