Joining Forces Blog

  • Honoring Our Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families During the Holidays

    Holiday decorations at the Naval Observatory Residence

    Holiday decorations at the Naval Observatory Residence, in Washington, D.C., December 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    This holiday season, in honor of our service members, veterans, and their families, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden dedicated five trees at the Naval Observatory Residence representing each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Capturing their personal experiences, military families from all across the country handcrafted the ornaments that adorn the trees. Atop each tree is a gold star, embodying the spirit, bravery, and patriotism of those who serve.

  • Dr. Jill Biden Lauds Commitments to Hire Military Spouses

    Dr. Biden at Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) Induction Ceremony

    Photo by Spc. Michael Mulderick at the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) Induction Ceremony on December 3, 2014.

    On December 3, Dr. Jill Biden delivered remarks at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va., to welcome employers who have been partners in the growth of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). MSEP is part of the Department of Defense's broader initiative to strengthen the education and career opportunities of military spouses, and connects employers with military spouses seeking new careers. In her remarks, Biden praised those organizations who contributed to the overall success of the initiative, its increase in numbers over time, and its ongoing expansion. She also highlighted the skills of military spouses and their contributions in the workplace.

    I know military spouses are among the most skilled and dedicated members of America’s workforce, and by giving them an opportunity to succeed, you will be making your business more productive. American businesses understand it is not only the right thing to do for our country, but it is the right thing to do for their bottom lines.

    Since its initial launch in 2011, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership has posted 1.8 million jobs on the MSEP Career Portal and aided in the employment of over 65,000 military spouses. With nearly 260 businesses within this partnership, the initiative has come full force to provide employment opportunities for military spouses whose lifestyles often require portable careers.

    More information regarding MSEP can be obtained at www.msepjobs.com.

  • The President and First Lady Team Up with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and Toys for Tots

    Yesterday at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., First Lady Michelle Obama brought an extra set of hands to this year’s Toys for Tots: President Barack Obama.

    The First Lady welcomed the crowd of local military families and introduced the President, who was making his first appearance at the annual holiday event.

    In his remarks, the President explained the importance of Toys for Tots -- the annual toy drive led by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve -- and how it is much more than just helping to get presents under a tree:

    … what Toys for Tots is about is generosity and giving back. All of us are so blessed. Look at these beautiful kids here and wonderful families. We are lucky. We’re lucky first and foremost to live in the United States of America, and we’re lucky to be able to look after our kids and there are parents out there who love their kids just as much but are going through a tough time. And for us to be able to make sure that that holiday spirit extends a little bit beyond just our family but to people all around the country, it is a wonderful contribution.

  • Gen. Dempsey, Celebrities Visit Airmen during USO Holiday Tour

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey

    Country music artist Kellie Pickler, retired Chicago Bear middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, actress Dianna Agron, Deanie Dempsey, Gen Martin Dempsey, comedian Rob Riggle, actress Meghan Markle, Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister and USO President Dr. J.D. Couch pose for a group photo prior to launching the Chairman's USO Holiday tour and taking off from Andrews AFB, MD, Dec. 5, 2014. (DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released)

    This was originally posted on the Joint Chiefs of Staff website.

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Incirlik Air Base, Turkey during a USO holiday troop visit Dec. 8.

    The general, joined by singers, actors, sports icons and a comedian, is on his fourth and final USO tour to visit armed forces members during the holiday season. Incirlik Air Base is one of five countries and shows for this tour.

    "Every year we try to go someplace where I can introduce the great talent that USO assembles, but also where I can learn something about the mission that we're trying to accomplish globally," Dempsey said. "Incirlik (AB) was a natural stop because of its importance as a NATO ally and what's going on to the Southeast and Middle East. I came here to say thank you for being part of the team."

    Incirlik AB is a forward and strategically located base that has an important mission of readiness. After having dinner with a few Airmen, the general shared what's important for the Airmen who accomplish this mission to know.

    "The cohesion of this unit really stands out," said the general. "You're great ambassadors for the United States. This isn't my first trip here, what's new of it is the increasing importance of this region."

    Kellie Pickler, from American Idol, and Diana Agron, from the TV show Glee, hit the stage at the Incirlik AB Fitness Center and performed for a crowd of more than 300 attendees. Pickler crooned some of her country hits while Agron got the crowd involved, singing her holiday song favorites.

    Also on hand was Brian Urlacher, a former Chicago Bears linebacker, and said visiting service members serving abroad means a lot to him personally.

    "Being here is an honor," Urlacher said. "It's overwhelming. I've had friends who told me about these tours, but you can't really understand until you're here and you hear the stories."

    Doug Fister, a former Washington Nationals pitcher, shared how this event is close to him.

    "Taking a little time to visit the people who sacrifice their time day in and day out for our freedom is important to me,” Fister said. “It's near and dear to my heart because I have had family members to serve in different services, and it's truly an honor to give back."

    With the mission of continuous readiness even throughout the holiday season, Incirlik AB members took time to enjoy a night of entertainment. The top ranking officer of the armed forces closed the show with a special rendition of a holiday song and thanked the Airmen and families for their continued sacrifice of service.

    "Thank you all from the senior leaders of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for helping us get the job done, and also working with our Turkish partners," Dempsey said.

  • Military Kids and Families Take Part in the Annual Holiday Press Preview

    First Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families look at the White House Christmas tree

    First Lady Michelle Obama stops to look at the White House Christmas tree in Blue Room while walking with children of military families to the State Dining Room of the White House for a craft project during the Christmas holiday press preview, Dec. 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    In the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed service members, veterans, wounded warriors, and their families. Her remarks included words of appreciation and gratitude for those who have answered our nation’s call to service and their families for their unconditional support throughout all the transitions and challenges associated with military life.

    During her remarks, the First Lady focused especially on the obstacles that military children can oftentimes face.

    “They don’t know about your kids and all that you have to go through,” the First Lady said. “They don’t know that oftentimes military kids have to start at a new school every couple of years, which means a tough transition for some, although they do it so bravely.”

  • VA to Host Annual National Veterans Small Business Engagement

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' blog. See the original post here.

    From Dec. 9 to Dec. 11, the Department of Veterans Affairs will host its annual National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE) at the Georgia World Congress Center, located at 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., NW, Atlanta, Ga., 30313.

    This three-day event attracts thousands of Veteran-owned small businesses to connect with federal agencies, commercial corporations, prime contractors and other partners to foster success. With greater opportunities for direct access and exposure to contracting and program specialists, NVSBE welcomes Veterans to make the connections necessary to succeed in today’s competitive contracting environment.