Joining Forces Blog

  • 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.

  • Helping Military Families Protect Themselves from Buyer's Remorse

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published on as a part of a series for National Consumer Protection Week.

    Have you ever bought something online and clicked the box that says “accept” without having any idea of what you’re actually accepting? Or maybe you looked at the fine print but it didn’t make any sense.

    Or, you sit in an office with a salesperson who has a stack of paperwork for a product you’re financing. They give you a two-minute explanation of what it all means and ask if you have any questions. You say “no” because it’s embarrassing to say that you didn’t understand what they just said. And when they say “sign here” you do it. Congratulations! You’ve just bought an iPad for… $3,600?!!

    So, what can servicemembers do when they’re confused at signing time?

    If you can’t make heads or tails of a contract, take it to someone who can: your installation Personal Financial Manager or JAG. If the seller doesn’t want to give you a copy of the contract before you sign, that’s a red flag; so is pressure to sign it “right now, while the offer is still available!&rdquo Don’t be afraid to step away and say you want to take time to think the purchase over.

  • Renewing the National Commitment to Putting America’s Heroes Back to Work

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden addressed the National Governors Association today, and renewed their call on governors to do their part putting America’s heroes back to work, and to serve our military veterans and spouses as well as they’ve served us. The First Lady’s remarks are a call to action – building on President Obama’s June 2012 announcement of the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force – setting a goal that by the end of 2015, all 50 states will have taken legislative or executive action to help our troops get the credentials they need to successfully transition to the civilian labor market.

    The remarks by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden coincide with a new report by the Executive Office of the President that details the barriers veterans and their families face as they seek employment, the Administration’s commitment to help them leverage their skills to good, meaningful jobs and the progress that has already been made.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama Challenges Governors of all 50 States to Ease Service Members' Transition to Civilian Work Force

    Too often the talented men and women who have served our country face barriers that make it difficult to find jobs that capitalize on the skills they have gained through their military education and experience. Many service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive industry certifications and state occupational licenses, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential requirements.

    The members of our Armed Forces and their families make great sacrifices, and when their service is concluded, we owe it to our veterans and their families to help them accomplish a successful transition to the civilian labor force. That is why over the past year and a half, President Obama has taken significant action to create a “career-ready military” and streamline the transition process.

    Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden highlighted the work that has been done across the country to change laws that require military spouses to attain new credentials when they move to a new state, and challenged the governors of all 50 states to take legislative or executive action to help our troops get the credentials they need by the end of 2015. Speaking to the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room, Mrs. Obama talked about the pressing need to take action and fulfill our responsibilities to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much over the past decade:

    In the coming years, more than one million service members will make the transition to civilian life. 

    Think about that – a million people hanging up their uniforms… figuring out what’s next… and doing everything they can to make that change as seamless as possible for their families.

    So the fact is, while this time of war may be ending, our responsibilities to our troops and their families will only be ramping  up.

    And that’s what I want to talk to you about today—how we can fulfill what is perhaps our most pressing responsibility to our troops: making sure that when they come home, they can find a job—and not just any job, but a good job, a job they can raise a family on.

  • Dr. Jill Biden Thanks British Military Veterans and their Families for their Service and Sacrifice

    Dr. Jill Biden Addresses a Help for Heroes Reception at the US Embassy in London, Feb 5, 2013

    Dr. Jill Biden welcomes British military veterans and their families at a reception for Wounded Warriors at Winfield House in London, England and thanks them for their service, sacrifice, and dedication. (by JP Evans/US Embassy)

    Dr. Jill Biden today met with Wounded Warriors at a reception for British military veterans and their families at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in London, England, and she thanked them for their service, sacrifice and dedication. America's Second Lady highlighted the unbreakable bonds between the US and British troops, who have served alongside one another for the past ten years, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

    Vice President and Dr. Biden have been travelling this week in Europe, where the Vice President has met with leaders in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. At today's reception, Dr. Biden talked about the people she has visited with over the past few days, including Wounded Warriors and medical staff at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and soldiers and their families at a US Army base in Germany:

    With each visit, I am reminded that our service members and their families have done so much for us … and we can all do something in return.

    That spirit is what fuels the Joining Forces initiative the First Lady and I started to support and honor our troops and military families.

    And I am very pleased to not only visit with some of the heroes that make the British military so strong, but also all the organizations here that support them.

    I know that over the past 10 years, you have all worked so hard to improve the lives of the men and women who have sacrificed so much. It is your dedication and support that has made all the difference for so many veterans and their families.