Joining Forces Blog
- Posted byon June 2, 2014 at 7:18 PM EDT
Today, in Rhode Island, First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a keel-laying ceremony of a new U.S. Navy submarine called the Illinois. She is the official sponsor of the USS Illinois and has chosen her daughters, Malia and Sasha, to be her maids of honor. In this traditional role, the maids of honor lend symbolic support to the sponsor in her ceremonial duties.
The keel-laying ceremony is the first of three ceremonial events that mark the milestones during a submarine’s construction. It is the ceremonial start of construction for the submarine and gives the sponsor the first chance to see the submarine under construction and meet her crew. During the event, the First Lady's initials were welded onto a steel plate which will be mounted on to the submarine where it will remain permanently mounted.
As the sponsor, the First Lady is participating in one of the Navy’s oldest and most hallowed traditions. Sponsors are selected to instill their spirit into the heart of a Navy warship. Additionally, the sponsor is the ceremonial link between the submarine, her crew, and the submarine’s namesake.
In her remarks as the sponsor of the Illinois, the First Lady highlighted the service and sacrifice that all Navy submariners and their families have made for our great Nation.
Commander Cara LaPointe, U.S. Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady.
- Posted byon May 28, 2014 at 12:21 PM EDT
There are 2.2 million women veterans in this country; citizens who have served our country in uniform and who are now going on to serve our communities and workplaces as positive forces for America’s competitiveness. The energy workforce offers prime opportunities for our women veterans as it grows rapidly and faces a high retirement rate in its skilled workers – and we’re partnering with the Department of Energy to prime women veterans to engage in this critical sector.
VA’s commitment to women veterans is second-to-none. Our department-wide Women Veterans Program, led by VA’s Center for Women Veterans, is the focal point of our advocacy – the nexus for enhancing access to our services, and the driver of our initiatives. The Center for Women Veterans is working with the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Energy Department to connect women veterans with employment pathway information, skills training programs, and energy literacy to enter into high-paying energy jobs.
Resources like Troops to Energy Jobs, a project of the Center for Energy Workforce Development started in 2011, help veterans translate their military experience into the skills that will help them excel in energy jobs and identify additional training resources. We are working to build on these resources, educating veterans about energy career opportunities and showcasing successful women veterans in the energy industry on the Department of Energy’s Women @ Energy series.
Veterans have specific skill sets that benefit the energy technical sector, and veterans’ high reliability and priority on safety make them desired hires in the energy sector. Energy jobs continue service for the country, increasing national security through energy independence and contributing to the American economy.
As the nation’s advocate for veterans, we won’t rest until we will serve all of them as well as they have served all of us.
Elisa Basnight is the Director for the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Posted byon May 27, 2014 at 5:51 PM EDT
Clara Gantt waited to be reunited with her husband, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. She waited, and waited, and waited -- never to remarry. An American story of timeless love and loyalty was shared by the President during the annual Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday.
I was able to sit down with Ms. Gantt and her nephew for a special trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with the President over a Memorial Day breakfast, as well as other gold star families and several Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations.
Ms. Gantt was elated at the chance to meet the Commander-In-Chief, and shared the story of her husband, who was captured in the Korean War, and presumed dead. For more than 60 years, the remains of the war hero, who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, were never identified nor returned to the United States.
- Posted byon May 24, 2014 at 6:27 AM EDT
Memorial Day is a very poignant and somber reminder for all Americans of the lives that have been lost in service to our Nation. This Memorial Day weekend, as the new Executive Director of Joining Forces, I have the deep honor of attending and supporting the 20th Annual Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors. These events, held in and around Washington DC, will have 4,000 participants this year -- more than 500 children. As a service member, and past participant in the Good Grief Camp, this weekend is especially meaningful. The loss and the grief for many is still fresh and for mentors and other volunteers -- the work is very personal. So too, is the national commitment to honoring the fallen and assisting their families -- thanks to organizations like TAPS.
- Posted byon May 23, 2014 at 4:12 PM EDT
On the last Monday of May, our nation will come together to observe Memorial Day and honor the men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. Throughout the National Park System, many sites will hold events in memoriam of the greatest sacrifice made by these brave American veterans, while other sites stand as permanent tributes to fallen soldiers year-round.
- Posted byon May 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM EDT
Taking the first step is what’s important, according to Medal of Honor recipient and University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate Kyle White. In an interview with VA News, the former U.S. Army sergeant talked about transitioning to school and civilian life after his time in Afghanistan, and reaching out for help with posttraumatic stress.
He explained that even though it wasn’t easy, becoming grounded in a new mission helped him move forward with his life.
“Military life, you know your daily mission, you know what you’re going to do. But when you go into civilian life, there is nobody there to tell you that anymore,” he said. “I kind of made my own mission. My next mission was a degree, and a job after that.”
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