Joining Forces Blog
- Posted byon April 12, 2013 at 12:46 PM EDT
Over the next few years, more than a million service men and women will end their military careers and transition back to civilian life. Many of these veterans will decide to go back to school to finish their degrees, enroll in a community college for the first time, or work to obtain a master’s degree.
That’s why, on our campus communities, we need to make sure that our veterans have access to the programs that will help them succeed and obtain good jobs to support their families.
This April, as we mark the second anniversary of Joining Forces, I am pleased to be visiting several higher education institutions to learn more about what they are doing to support student veterans.
On Wednesday, I visited George Washington University to meet with student veterans and hear about several of their initiatives. While I was there, I heard from members of GW Vets, their student group representing more than 1,500 student veterans, military dependent students and allies across campus.
One of those students was Nichole Krom, a freshman who became involved in GW Vets as soon as she heard about it and is now the organization’s secretary. Nichole is not a veteran herself, but her father recently retired from the New York Air National Guard. She is a wonderful example of an important truth about our service men and women who sacrifice so much for our country – their families serve right alongside them.
- Posted byon April 8, 2013 at 3:21 PM EDT
As we mark the second anniversary of Joining Forces and celebrate the Month of the Military Child, April gives us the opportunity to celebrate our nation's youngest heroes—the children whose parents serve in our Armed Forces.
Military children face many unique challenges – on average, they attend six to nine different school systems by the time they graduate from high school. Through each transition, they have to leave their friends, try out for new sports teams, and adjust to a new school.
As a teacher, I have been so pleased to see the progress we are making to raise awareness and understanding about how to help military children in the classroom. Through Joining Forces, more than 100 colleges of teacher education have signed on to Operation Educate the Educators, an effort to help better prepare future teachers to help military children in the classroom.
But as a military mother and grandmother, it is important to me that we are supporting our military children outside the classroom as well.
First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Military Families at the Fisher House and Walter Reed National Military Medical CenterPosted byon March 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Fisher House at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to celebrate Easter early with military families. Accompanied by First Dog, Bo, and an Easter basket full of cookies, the First Lady decorated Easter cards with military children.
In her work with Joining Forces, Mrs. Obama applauds organizations which aid active and veteran service members and military families. “The Fisher Houses, as you all know, are just so important to families who are recuperating,” said the First Lady in her remarks. “And all around the country, they are as beautiful and as welcoming and as comforting as you guys are experiencing here.”
The Fisher House is a program established to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment while their loved ones receive care.
Mrs. Obama invited the participating families to this year’s Easter Egg Roll, which takes place on the South Lawn of the White House.
Following her visit with the military families at the Fisher House, Mrs. Obama visited wounded warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
CAPT Todd Veazie is Executive Director of Joining Forces in the Office of the First Lady.
- Posted byon March 21, 2013 at 3:50 PM EDT
Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama and Joining Forces recognized 14 extraordinary women veterans as Champions of Change. The event, which took place at the White House, honored women veterans who have made a tremendous impact on our nation’s communities, businesses, and schools.
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Champions of Change event honoring women veterans, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, March 19, 2013. Mrs. Obama spoke to the group on behalf of her Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Mrs. Obama spoke to the honorees and highlighted the need for companies to hire transitioning women veterans. “Right now, we have so many talented, highly skilled veterans who have so much to offer this country. And they're going to need that opportunity to make that happen,” said the First Lady. “We need that service operating here at home.”
Through Joining Forces, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden are determined to serve veterans and military families and make sure that they receive the benefits, support, and respect they have earned and deserve. The First Lady spoke to the incredible skills and hard work that women veterans possess and bring to every job they do:
“You are the leaders in our businesses and schools in our communities. You're mothers raising your kids with that same sense of honor that defines your own lives every single day. You're volunteers in your neighborhoods, on the PTA, your houses of worship, always finding ways to keep lifting folks up.
Long after you stop serving this country, you don’t stop serving it after you hang up your uniforms. And that’s something that we say all the time about our veterans. It's important for the nation to understand that you all keep working.”
Promises Kept: Ending the Iraq War and Supporting Our Service Members, Military Families and VeteransPosted byon March 19, 2013 at 11:00 AM EDT
Ed. note: Click here to see the timeline of President Obama's promise to end the war in Iraq and support service members as they return home.
Ten years ago my US Army unit was returning from our final training exercise in preparation for deploying in support of Operation Iraq Freedom. We listened intensely as President Bush announced the start of the war 10 years ago today, and my platoon prepared to deploy as part of the 1st Armored Division into the breach of battle. Within a few short weeks, my soldiers and I were rolling across the Kuwaiti border on our way to Baghdad to relieve the 3rd Infantry Division.
My soldiers and I spent most of the next 15 months based out of a Forward Operating Base on the banks of the Tigris River trying to bring stability to a chaotic and complex situation. We had a front row seat as the Iraqi’s celebrated the capture of Saddam Hussein, but also felt the war turn as we went from eating dinners in the homes of everyday Iraqi’s to fighting insurgents on the streets in places like Najaf.
Although there is still much to learn about this war, one thing is certain; President Obama’s commitment and focus on taking care of our service members brought this war to an end. He held to his promise and ensured that by December of 2011, “the last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq—with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.”
- Posted byon March 12, 2013 at 6:09 PM EDT
On Monday, Dr. Jill Biden joined a meeting of the National PTA's Executive Board to talk about the ways parents, educators and school communities can offer important support to children whose parents are serving in the military, and especially those whose moms or dads are deployed overseas.
Dr. Biden, who is both an educator and a military mom, thanked the leaders for the work they have already accomplished on this issue in schools, and highlighted how much more remains to be done, and how important it is:
Three years ago, I visited troops with my husband at Camp Victory in Iraq over the Fourth of July. While I was there, a general told me that during a concert at his six-year-old daughter’s school, one of her classmates burst into tears when the song “Ave Maria” played.
She told the teacher it was the song they played at her daddy’s funeral. He died in Iraq.
Her teacher was unaware she was a military child. That story is heartbreaking for all of us – especially parents and teachers who can imagine the impact an incident like that would have on a child.
And that story demonstrates just how vital it is that we raise awareness around the unique needs of our military children.
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