Joining Forces Blog

  • Dr. Jill Biden on Joining Forces: 'America Has Stepped Up' for Veterans

    Dr. Jill Biden sat down with Lylah Alphonse of U.S. News & World Report to talk about our Joining Forces initiative and what businesses and communities can do to support those who have courageously served our nation. This interview originally appeared in U.S. News & World Report. You can find the original post here


    Though the unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to fall, the country is still coping with a skills gap, especially in certain science- and technology-intensive fields like IT and health care. Veterans could fill the gap -- if only employers were more aware of the skills these men and women gained while in military service.

    "Not every hiring manager is going to know that a chief petty officer has been responsible for the lives of dozens of their peers," First Lady Michelle Obama said during the Women Veterans Career Development Forum in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday. "Not every HR director understands that a gunner’s mate is probably trained to do some of the most complex, high-tech analysis that you'll find anywhere."

    To help bridge that gap, and to encourage citizens to support veterans and military families, the First Lady and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces in 2011.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Women Veterans

    This morning, First Lady Michelle Obama joined more than two hundred active-duty, retired-military, veteran, and reservist women at the Women Veterans Career Development Forum. Today’s career forum, focused on transitioning to civilian life, follows a White House roundtable discussion led by the First Lady which was featured in the November 2014 Redbook issue’s cover story.

    The day-long career-readiness forum, held at Arlington National Cemetery, included discussion with private and public-sector employers; hands-on workshops covering topics from financial literacy to resume writing; insights on entrepreneurship from Bobbi Brown, founder and CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; and a career fashion workshop sponsored by Ann Taylor.

    In her keynote address, the First Lady started by thanking the attendees for their service:

    But most of all, I want to thank all of you, the service members and veterans who have stood up every time this country has called. And before I go any further, I want to say two words that I don’t think we can say enough, and that is, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your unending commitment to our country.

    But I’m here today because I know that simply saying thank you isn’t always enough. We’re here because of women…with distinguished records of service who still struggle to find jobs after they leave the military.

  • VetCap Surges During National Veterans Small Business Week

    November 3-7 is the first annual National Veterans Small Business Week. During this important week designed to support our veteran entrepreneurs, Joining Forces is excited to recognize the continued national growth of VetCap, a series of workshops to train veteran entrepreneurs on where and how to raise capital for their businesses. VetCap (capital for veterans) originated from a White House Veterans Entrepreneurship Workshop, co-sponsored by Joining Forces and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, with support from the National Economic Council.

    During National Veterans Small Business Week, the Obama Administration is connecting veterans from all over the country with workshops, resources, and training programs to establish and grow their businesses. Small businesses are essential to our nation’s economy and Veteran entrepreneurs are responsible for nearly one of every 10 small businesses; they generate over $1.2 trillion in receipts each year and employ nearly 6 million workers in the process.

    The White House Veterans Entrepreneurship Workshop, held in February, brought together private sector leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and veterans services to collaborate on new programs to help veterans launch and grow their businesses. The VetCap concept was proposed by Craig Hanson, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley working on veteran employment programs, and a team was subsequently formed to launch the idea into a national program. “Veterans represent some of our nation’s brightest and most dedicated entrepreneurs,” Hanson said. “A big hurdle for them, however, can be determining where and how to raise the capital they need to grow their businesses. VetCap is an innovative initiative inspired by a White House call to help veteran entrepreneurs.”

    The DC launch of VetCap takes place November 6, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, as part of National Veterans Small Business Week. It will include a panel of experts from the major financing categories to teach veterans where to raise capital and how to make a pitch for financing. The event also features speakers from the White House National Economic Council and the U.S. Small Business Administration, to outline the government’s many programs to help veteran entrepreneurs. I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak at the event and meet with veteran entrepreneurs in attendance.

    VetCap is an independent, private sector initiative, and Joining Forces is proud to have inspired these private sector innovators and entrepreneurs to aid in its mission to help military veterans create and grow their businesses. Doing so isn’t just good for their bottom line—it’s good for the entire country.  

  • Join Us for Joining Forces Wellness Week

    In August, President Obama announced 19 new executive actions to serve the military community, which included a Joining Forces Wellness Week from November 10-14. During the week, we’ll be joining medical, behavioral health, and academic organizations to provide free virtual training to providers and students across the country.

    Each day during Wellness Week, we’ll be hosting a webinar from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. ET:

    • Nov. 10 — Military Culture Counts: Assisting Service Members and Veterans
    • Nov. 11 — Taking a Military Health History: Four Critical Questions
    • Nov. 12 — Helping Military Service Members, Veterans, and Those Who Support Them in Transition
    • Nov. 13 — Parents of Service Members: An Underserved Population
    • Nov. 14 — Telehealth: Serving the Needs of Our Military Families Through Technology

    To join one or all of these webinars, register here, and you can also check back for the archived versions of all five events.

    The Center for Deployment Psychology will host the webinars through their training platform, and content will be provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Academy of Nursing, American Psychiatric Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Nurses Foundation, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and Give an Hour. 

    From the very beginning of Joining Forces, the health care, behavioral health, and academic communities have answered the call to provide quality support for veterans, service members, and their families. Next week will give providers and students an opportunity to learn about topics such as military culture, taking a military health history, stress-related injuries, the unique needs of parents of service members, and tele-health. We applaud the efforts of these organizations to expand the knowledge of providers and students who interact with veterans, service members, and their families.

  • National Veterans Small Business Week

    On November 7, as part of the first National Veterans Small Business Week, First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on an episode of ABC’s Emmy Award-winning “Shark Tank,” featuring veteran entrepreneurs and their business ideas. National Veterans Small Business Week honors those veteran entrepreneurs who continue to serve our country by creating jobs and fueling economic growth.

    This week, the Administration will be hosting events all across the country that celebrate and support current and future veteran business owners. From Boots to Business entrepreneurship training at U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuggart, Germany, to a seminar on veterans’ access to capital held at Microsoft Corporation in Washington, D.C., National Veterans Small Business Week is connecting veteran entrepreneurs with workshops, resources, and training programs to launch and grow their businesses.

  • Kicking Off Military Family Month

    Throughout our history, members of our military have put their lives on the line to defend our country and preserve our security. While this requires a tremendous personal sacrifice, it is also important to recognize the unyielding love and support that their families provide every step of the way to make this sacrifice possible. As a proud military mom myself, I know that when you have a family member who is in the military, the whole family serves too.

    Last week, I visited the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where I had the opportunity to see firsthand how state-of-the art rehabilitation equipment like the FlowRider and zero-gravity treadmills are being incorporated into an innovative rehabilitation process for our wounded soldiers — it is truly remarkable. I also met with service members and military spouses stationed in San Antonio to discuss the challenges that are an inherent part of military life, such as constant relocation and missing family milestones due to deployments.

    We have asked a lot of service members and their families over the past decade. They have sacrificed so much on behalf of our country. I am proud to be part of an Administration that has supported our troops, veterans, and their families in historic ways. In April, First Lady Michelle Obama and I announced the unveiling of the Veterans Employment Center, an innovative tool to help veterans and spouses find career opportunities. As of this summer, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Military Children’s Interstate Compact, which eases some of the burdens of transitions for military connected kids. And today, in honor of their service, President Obama signed a proclamation to establish November 2014 as Military Family Month.