Joining Forces Blog

  • Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors

    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 Center

    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.

     

     

  • First Lady Michelle Obama Honors 14 Women Veterans as Champions of Change

    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 Honoring Women's Veterans

    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 Veterans

    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.”

  • Dr. Jill Biden Talks with the PTA's Executive Board about Supporting Military Kids in Schools

    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.

  • The Changing Face of Veteran Reintegration

    Post World War II, military veterans returned home to a community of veterans and a grateful nation that had shared in the sacrifice of war. These veterans used the brick and mortar posts of the American Legion and the VFW to maintain that esprit-de-corps. They mentored youth, advocated on veterans issues, shared war stories, and confided in each other over beers.

    President Obama talking with Team Rubicon in the Oval Office

    President Barack Obama greets members of the Team Rubicon disaster relief organization in the Oval Office, Feb. 8, 2013. Participants include: Danielle Harrington, volunteer; James "JC" McGreehan, Mission Leader; William McNulty, Vice President and co-founder; Daniel Nidess, Director of Personnel; Matt Pelak, Director of Strategic Partnerships; Andrew Stevens, Director of Programs; Maria Lourdes Tiglao, Regional Director of Recruitment; and Jacob Wood, President and co-founder. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    For generations, when veterans took off their uniform, their desire to serve did not end. That’s just as true today. Some very creative post 9/ll veterans’ charities have adapted to this desire and have created models for continued service and engagement. The Mission Continues provides fellowships for returning veterans to continue their service in the public sector. Ride 2 Recovery and Team RWB use the therapeutic effect of physical training to repair the physical and mental wounds of war. Our organization, Team Rubicon, uses continued service through disaster response as a means to maintain purpose, community, and a sense-of-self. Our work is inspired by our late friend Clay Hunt, who took his own life after leaving the service.