Joining Forces Blog
- Posted byon January 20, 2013 at 8:11 AM EST
The First and Second Ladies of the United States got an early start on the 2013 Inauguration celebrations at a concert honoring our military families.
The Kids Inaugural: Our Children, Our Future was hosted by Nick Cannon and featured artists including Katy Perry, Usher, the cast of "Glee," Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior. JR Martinez, the Army hero who won "Dancing with the Stars," also joined Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden for the event, which was held at the Washington Convention Center.
Dr. Biden said the concert was a chance to show military kids how much the country appreciates the sacrifices they make while their parents are serving.
The First Lady told the crowd that while she loves "every single minute" of the inaugural celebrations, the Kids Concert was the true highlight:
I have to tell you that my very favorite part of this entire weekend is being right here with all of you. Absolutely. Because for me, this is what inauguration is all about. It’s about celebrating who we are as Americans and all the things that make this country so great. And when I think about who we are, when I think about what makes America great, I think about all of you --our men and women in uniform, our military spouses, and our amazing military kids.
- Posted byon January 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM EST
Yesterday, the First Lady and Dr. Biden sat down with four exceptional young reporters from kids’ magazines to talk about their initiative to support military families, Joining Forces. The reporters – from Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Scholastic and TIME for Kids – asked some great questions about the initiative and how kids can help!
Some of the takeaways?
- Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden talked about how they encourage all Americans to look for ways to honor and support military families, and Dr. Biden said when her son Beau was deployed their church put his name in the bulletin to pray for him, people brought meals over, and someone shoveled her daughter-in-law’s driveway during a snowstorm.
- Asked about advice for a military child who moves a lot, Dr. Biden encouraged them to get involved in sports teams and school activities. And as a teacher herself, she talked about how teachers can get involved to reach out to military kids. For example, Dr. Biden’s granddaughters’ teacher put a picture of her dad’s unit outside of her classroom so the entire class would know Beau was deployed.
- Mrs. Obama encouraged all the kids’ magazines’ readers to think “what can I do?” for a new kid in school – especially a new military kid.
- Posted byon January 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM EST
Editor's note: This post was originally published on va.gov.
Today is the day. After a lot of planning and hard work, VA is launching the first phase of the new look and feel of our homepage VA.gov. The Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and National Cemetery Administration homepages have also been revamped.
Over the past few years, we’ve been listening to your input—the Veterans, family members, and loved ones. We heard you: our website was clunky, outdated, and difficult to navigate. Now, we’re implementing the changes you want to see. You’ll notice a new look and feel on our main pages, updated navigation, improved search capabilities, and more up-to-date VA content and information.
Now, we need some more help from you. Throughout the next year, we’ll be rolling out additional changes to VA’s numerous pages and we want your input. Tell us what you like and don’t like about the new websites. Each piece of feedback is useful and we want to make sure that by the end of 2013 we have the best website in the Federal government, according to our users.
Please click around and let us know what you think!
Lauren Bailey is the Deputy Director of Online Communications at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Posted byon December 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM EST
In August of 2011, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. In August of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Mayport Naval Station in Florida to announce that 2,000 American companies had stepped up to the challenge, and had already exceeded that goal, hiring 125,000 veterans and military spouses more than a year ahead of schedule.
In addition, those companies doubled down on their commitment to our troops and military families and made a new promise, a pledge to hire or train an additional 250,000 of our nation's heroes, including 50,000 military spouses.
- Posted byon December 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM EST
Holidays can be a busy time for everyone. It is also a time for us to take note of the family and friends in our lives who mean so much to us. Aside from traditional holiday festivities, the holiday season can also bring or heighten feelings of loss and grief. While these feelings can impact anyone across the nation, I’d ask that we pay close attention to our military, veterans, and their families, many of whom are dealing with the impact of separations, medical issues, and loss.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention gives us some indicators to consider; are there any observable signs of serious depression (unrelenting low mood, hopelessness, desperation, anxiety, withdrawal, and sleep problems); is there increased alcohol and/or other drug use; has there been recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks, and has there been unexpected rage or anger. This list is not all inclusive, but the presence of one or more of these in one individual may indicate more serious issues.
At Ft. Bliss, TX earlier this year, President Obama stated "Seeking help is a sign of strength". He then issued an Executive Order for Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families. This Order serves as a foundation for bringing the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs together to facilitate access to education, services and research.
To strengthen internal commitment to end suicides amongst our military, the Department of Defense formed the Defense Suicide Prevention Office to lift up suicide awareness and develop prevention strategies. This Public Service Announcement, produced by the Defense Media Activity, prompts service members, veterans, and their families to know the signs of stress that can lead to suicide and to contact the Military Crisis Line through Militarycrisisline.net or by calling 1-800-273-8255, press 1. The Crisis Line is staffed by VA professionals who can help 24/7.
Rosye Cloud is the Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Families
- Posted byon November 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM EST
Editor's note: Military Family Month reminds us to take a moment to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of our military families. As President Obama said in his proclamation declaring November as Military Family Month, “When a young woman signs up to defend our Nation, her parents are enlisted as well. When a father deploys to a combat zone, his children are called to serve on the home front. And when the men and women of our military serve far from home, their families feel the strain of their absence.”
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