Joining Forces Blog

  • What You Missed: Joining Forces PCS Twitter Q&A

    Yesterday, the Joining Forces team held their first-ever Twitter Q&A to talk about Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves. PCS moves are a fact of life for military service members and their families, and can be stressful whether it’s a first-time PCS or a family’s fourth or fifth move.

    The #PCSchat Twitter Q&A answered questions that military members and families might have about a PCS move. If you missed the live event, check out a summary of the tweets below: 

  • More than 500 Colleges and Universities Pledge to Support Student Veterans

    In August 2013, President Obama announced the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success on Campus:” eight concrete steps institutions of higher learning can take to help student veterans succeed on campus. At that time, 250 schools had committed to implementing the 8 Keys. Since then, the number of community colleges and universities pledging their support has more than doubled with partners all across the country including the University of Michigan, Solano Community College in California, the University of Florida, eighteen members of the City University of New York (CUNY) and Texas A&M University.   

    Developed by more than 100 education experts in collaboration with the Administration and the Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs, the 8 Keys to Veterans' Success on Campus are specific actions that institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and service members transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there. Schools across the country are stepping up to ensure that the women and men who fought for our nation in uniform can succeed on campus, complete their college programs and obtain career-ready skills. 

    Now it’s time for other schools to step up in support of our student vets. To check if your school has signed the 8 Keys pledge, click here. If you are an administrator and would like to join the growing list of colleges and universities focused on providing the best environment for our student veterans, please visit the 8 Keys registration site, or e-mail 8keys@ed.gov.

    The 8 Keys to Veterans' Success on Campus are as follows:

    • Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
    • Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
    • Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
    • Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space for them (even if limited in size).
    • Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
    • Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.
    • Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
    • Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

    Robert "Mac" McFarlin is a White House Fellow at the National Economic Council.

  • Platoon Honors Veterans and Servicemembers at Arlington

    Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment

    Spc. Kevin Morthorst (right), infantryman, Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and members of his squad, return to the Caisson horse stables after performing various funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Nov. 9. On this day, Morthorst preformed his 1,000th memorial ceremony with the Caisson platoon. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the VAntage Point blog. See the original post here.

    Most people know about The Old Guard and its role as caretaker of Arlington National Cemetery. Images of soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown, despite rain or snow, are famous throughout the world. However, the regiment’s mission is more involved than what meets the eye.

    The Old Guard’s primary mission is to render honors and conduct the funeral ceremonies of departed Veterans and Servicemembers. They also assist grieving families in coping with the loss of a loved one.

  • Join Joining Forces for a PCS Twitter Q&A

    Moving is a fact of life for most of our military service members and their families. Within the military community, relocating from one base (or post) to another base is commonly known as a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), and summer is a busy time for PCS moves.

    A PCS move can be stressful for military families, and for many who are facing a first-time move—or maybe even their third or fourth—relocating can lead to a lot of questions.

    If you have PCS questions or advice to share with fellow military members and their families, join us on Wednesday, August 13 at 2:00 p.m. ET, for a Joining Forces #PCSchat Twitter Q&A.

    Here are the details:

    • Ask your PCS questions on Twitter ahead of the Q&A using the hashtag #PCSchat
    • Follow the Q&A live through the @JoiningForces Twitter handle and with the #PCSchat hashtag
    • Jump in during the Q&A on Wed. Aug. 13 at 2pm ET and answer the #PCSchat questions posed by @JoiningForces
    • If you miss the live Q&A, don’t worry, we’ll post the questions and some of the best answers right here and at storify.com/whitehouse

  • Spotlight on Troops to Teachers: Martin K. Screen

    Martin Screen

    Troops to Teachers participant Martin Screen in his 8th grade math class in 2012. (Photo submitted by Martin Screen)

    August’s Troops to Teachers Spotlight, Martin Screen, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, teaches seventh and eighth grade math at Eddie White K8 Academy in Hampton, Georgia. Before beginning his second career as a math teacher, Mr. Screen served for 22 years as a communications specialist in the Air Force. Like most in the military, his assignments crossed the globe – several times. Nine US states and Japan, Germany and Saudi Arabia were “home” to Mr. Screen and his family at one point or another. He says that each assignment was filled with wonderful memories, opportunities and experiences.  

    During his service, Mr. Screen was committed to completing his studies and enrolled in the University of Maryland University College during his first assignment in Japan. He continued to pursue a degree, one class at a time, and during his tour in Germany, he completed his bachelor’s degree. 

  • DOT, FMCSA Expand Licensing Program to Help America's Veterans Get Jobs

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's Fast Lane Blog

    At the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we have been working hard to support our active duty troops and experienced veterans as they make the often difficult transition from military life to civilian careers.

    We do this not only because we owe our troops a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice to our nation, but also because we truly need their skills and training to fill the transportation-related jobs that help keep our economy moving.

    That's why I'm proud to share a recent milestone that Vice President Biden announced this week at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) conference: FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program has now been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    This means that veterans who drove heavy duty vehicles in the military can earn a Commercial Driver’s License --and find work that fits their experience-- without having to take the skills portion of their state's licensing exam.

    Military Truck Driving

    Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation