Joining Forces Blog

  • Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg Soldiers On With VA Support

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Veterans Affairs' VAntage Point blog. See the original post here.

    Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg (left) shakes hands with Secretary Eric Shinseki before the State of the Union address.

    Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg (left) shakes hands with Secretary Eric Shinseki before the State of the Union address. (by Department of Veterans Affairs)

    Last night, after years of pain and rehabilitation, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg sat with the First Lady as President Obama delivered the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. His father and caretaker, Craig, was next to him in the House gallery when the President began to talk about Cory’s injuries and long road to recovery.

    “Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit,” said President Obama.

    What followed was a moment that united all in attendance and Americans watching at home. As Cory stood up from his seat with the help of his father, the House chamber erupted with applause. The smile, thumbs-up, and a wave from the soldier to the commander in chief was not only endearing – it was a shining glimpse into how far Cory had come.

    “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him,” said Craig earlier on Tuesday as he and Cory visited VA headquarters to meet with Secretary Eric Shinseki. “There is a lot going on in America today, and if Cory’s story can add some inspiration to people’s lives … that’s what it’s all about.”

  • Military Spouse Employment Partnership and Hiring Our Heroes: Expanding Career Opportunities for Military Spouses

    As a service member, my job is where the military sends me. It’s quite a different story for military spouses. Frequent moves are often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career. I know that those of us in uniform share the belief that our spouses deserve every opportunity to choose and pursue a career that is personally and professionally rewarding. That’s why I am proud of the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership.

    The Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, expands career opportunities for military spouses among companies that are eager to hire them. It provides companies direct access to military spouses seeking career opportunities and connects spouses to employers who are actively recruiting. MSEP currently has more than 200 partners who have hired more than 55,000 military spouses.

    MSEP also formed the Spouse Ambassador Network, to raise awareness about the challenges related to employment, increase career opportunities and assist in developing career paths that follow military spouses as they relocate.

    MSEP is based on the premise that hiring military spouses is good business. Spouses bring hard-to-find values and skills to a wide range of fields, including education and training, health care and financial services. They are tech-savvy, adaptable, resilient, strong leaders, team players and effective under pressure.

    MSEP is part of DoD’s broader Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program, which seeks to strengthen education and career opportunities for military spouses. The Chamber of Commerce Foundation partners with DoD in support of SECO. The Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program helps veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment.

    Hiring Our Heroes holds hiring fairs specifically designed for military spouses in communities across the United States. These events allow military spouses to meet with employers who are committed to hiring them. Hiring Our Heroes also arranges networking receptions for military spouses across the country to better connect them with local military, community and business leaders.

    During the month of January, while we are setting goals for 2014, I hope that military spouses will take time to explore the opportunities available to help them meet their education and career planning goals. Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, in conjunction with the MySECO website, can provide them with wide-ranging resources and tools to help them explore careers, find education and training, prepare for employment and make career-enhancing connections.

    Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces

  • Serving Up STEM at Aberdeen High

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Office of Science and Technology blog. See the original post here.

    Today, OSTP’s Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Patricia Falcone and Joining Forces Executive Director, Colonel Rich Morales, are visiting Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, MD, celebrating that school’s designation by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) as NMSI’s “School of the Year.”
     
    Aberdeen High is one of the Nation’s many schools with a high proportion of students whose parents are in the military—in this case, serving at the U.S. Army base at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). These children often face unique academic challenges, in part because their parents tend to move so frequently. That’s why, in 2010, OSTP and the White House Joining Forces initiative worked with NMSI to bring NMSI’s Comprehensive Advanced Placement (AP) Program to schools that serve large numbers of military families. The Program provides enhanced teacher training and mentorship, extra time on-task for students, Saturday study sessions, and incentives for students and teachers, all aimed at boosting success in AP courses—which can give students a significant advantage as they head to college.
     
    NMSI’s Aberdeen program launched in the 2012-2013 school year and made an immediate, impressive impact. The average increase in passing scores on AP math, science, and English exams was 137 percent—19 times the average increase nationally—and helped earn the school NMSI’s coveted  “School of the Year” award.
     

  • Honoring Those Who Continue to Serve on MLK Day

    DC Central Kitchen Service Day

    President Barack Obama talks with daughter Sasha, as they along with First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughter Malia prepare burritos while volunteering at the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., on Martin Luther King Day January 20, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we honor Dr. King, who believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, by encouraging all citizens to make the effort to serve their community through volunteering.

    The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems. To honor Dr. King’s legacy and those that continue to serve, the First Family participated today in a service project at the DC Central Kitchen, where they prepared meals for distribution to local shelters. They served alongside veterans who have continued to serve in their communities through programs and organizations such as DC Central Kitchen, AmeriCorps VISTA, The Mission Continues, Team Rubicon, Teach for America, and Team RWB. Joining Forces is proud to recognize DC Central Kitchen and the following veterans who continue to serve.

    Celebrating its 25th anniversary today, DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) is the nation’s first and leading community kitchen. DCCK turns local produce and leftover food into 5,000 daily meals for struggling individuals and families. A portion of the meals are prepared by unemployed, severely at-risk men and women enrolled in the landmark Culinary Job Training program (CJT). CJT enrolls unemployed adults overcoming homelessness, addiction, and incarceration in a 14-week professional education program and prepares them for success in the kitchen and in life. DCCK has helped veterans with CJT, which has led to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for them.

    Aaron Parlier is a United States Army veteran who has continued his service through AmeriCorps. His optimism, determination, and passion for the outdoors has resulted in the first State Park bouldering and multi-use trail in Virginia. After serving in the United States Army as a paratrooper, Aaron joined the Virginia State Parks Interpretive Project AmeriCorps program while at Virginia Tech.

    Yolanda Adams joined the United States Navy as a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman and served 24 years in the military. Yolanda earned a Mission Continues fellowship with The Bridge to Freedom Foundation, a young nonprofit that focuses on helping survivors of modern day slavery become self-sufficient and transition from slavery to freedom.

    Anthony Bari, Jr is a United States Marine Corps veteran who has continued to serve both through a Mission Continues Fellowship and as a volunteer with Team Rubicon. Anthony earned a Mission Continues fellowship with The United Way Campaign, where he works with middle school students as a tutor and mentor. In November 2013, Anthony joined Team Rubicon’s Operation: Seabird to provide disaster relief in the Philippines following Super Typhoon Haiyan.

    Tyler Wright served as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy and is an AmeriCorps VISTA member assigned to Student Veterans of America (SVA) through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps. In his assignment as a Student Veteran Success Corps and Outreach Coordinator, Tyler provides support to SVA’s new employment initiative, Student Veteran Success Corps, through chapter and company outreach while also assisting in chapter development and recruitment.

    We encourage every American to follow the example of these veterans and organizations and find ways to serve their community. From volunteering at a local charity, to creating care packages for our overseas deployed service members, or working at a non-profit, there are many ways to serve.

    To learn more about getting involved in your local community, visit serve.gov.  

    Commander Cara LaPointe, US Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady

  • Separated Military Families come together with United Through Reading

    As part of our Family Friday Blog series, I’d like to highlight the United Through Reading Organization, which allows separated military service members to connect with their children or relatives through recorded stories.

    United Through Reading gives deployed service members the opportunity to be video-recorded while reading a story to their children or other relatives. This contact creates emotional connections which helps to reduce the stress of deployment. Service members are able to record their readings at nearly 200 stations worldwide, which can be found here.

    Since its beginning in 1989, over 1.5 million children, parents, and other caring adults have participated in United Through Reading, which has helped make the lives of separated military families a little easier. Organizations like United Through Reading are very appreciated in the military community and help increase military and family readiness.

    For more information on the United Through Reading Organization, please visit their website at http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/.

    Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces

     

     

     

  • How You Can Access eBenefits

    Knowing what VA benefits are available to you isn’t always clear when you’re a newly separated military service member or even one that has been separated for a while. Lucky for us, VA benefits can be viewed and managed at eBenefits.va.gov.  With this online platform, veterans and their families can apply for and monitor their benefits, and obtain important documents like their DD-214. This website contains a lot of valuable information and every veteran should create an account so they can stay up-to-date on their VA military benefits.

    VA military benefits increase the health and wellness of our veterans and their families. Learning how to access them is an important step to helping our veterans and their families reach optimal health and wellness.

    Please watch this video to see how eBenefits can help you navigate your benefits:

    For even more information, please go to eBenefits.va.gov.

    Rory Brosius is the Deputy Director for Joining Forces.