Joining Forces Blog

  • 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.

  • Lessons from a World War II Veteran on Longevity and Life

    Alyce Dixon, the oldest-known living female African American veteran of World War II, visited the Oval Office yesterday to meet President Obama and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

    One of the first African American women in the U.S. Army, Alyce served with the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion during World War II. Alyce had the onerous job of going through stacks of undelivered mail stored in warehouses in Britain and in France, and designing a system to help ensure that the men on the front lines received their mail.

    In Iraq, there were a few things that kept me and my guys smiling in the sweltering 100-degree heat. Eighteen hours on and six off, we all looked forward to that little precious time before hitting the rack to read your mail. In the early days of the war, internet access, particularly at the outposts, was rare to non-existent -- all we had were letters. Sometimes it took two weeks to a month for a letter to get to us, so I can only imagine how important Alyce’s job was to the men and women of World War II, who waited a half a year or more at times to receive that needed lift in spirit, and little piece of home.

    After eliminating the backlog of mail in Great Britain, the mighty 6888th was deployed to France, where they were given six months to accomplish their mission. They got the job done in three. After she completed her mission overseas, Alyce returned to Washington, D.C. and worked another 35 years until retirement.

    When the President asked her yesterday what the secret to her energy and youth was, she said “caring and sharing, sharing and caring.”

    Alyce, who still lives in Washington, D.C., is cared for by the Department of Veterans Affairs at the District of Columbia VA Medical Center, Community Living Center.

    Koby Langley is the Director of Veteran, Wounded Warrior, and Military Family Engagement at the White House.

  • Dr. Biden Highlights Strength and Service of America’s Military, Veterans and Their Families

    This week, Dr. Jill Biden traveled to San Antonio, Texas to highlight the strength of America’s service members, veterans, and their families. On Wednesday morning, Dr. Biden delivered remarks at Women in the World Texas:

    As Second Lady, during my travels across the country and around the world, I have had the honor of meeting remarkable people who lift us up…

    What I have learned along the way, is that no matter how difficult the situation, there are exceptional individuals who step up to the challenge; who go above and beyond to make an even bigger difference in their community. I see that type of extraordinary commitment in our service members, veterans, and their families, and I am always inspired by their strength, resilience, and pride.

    Afterwards, Dr. Biden visited the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), which provides innovative rehabilitation for our wounded warriors.

    Dr. Jill Biden visits with Army 1st Lt. Kelly Elmlinger

    Dr. Jill Biden visits with Army 1st Lt. Kelly Elmlinger, from Brooke Army Medical Center’s Warrior Transition Battalion, at the Center for the Intrepid, Oct. 22, 2014. Elmlinger dominated at the Invictus Games for warrior-athletes in London, competing in track, field, cycling, swimming, wheelchair racing and cycling. U.S. Army photo by Robert Shields.

    Dr. Biden’s latest visit to BAMC was inspired by her trip last month to London for the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded service members.

     

  • USO Service Member Honorees and Volunteers of the Year Recognized at the 2014 USO Gala

    USO Service Members of the Year on Stage at the 2014 USO Gala

    All six USO service members of the year on stage at the 2014 USO Gala in Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 2014. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton.

    Every fall, the USO invites more than 1,000 guests to gather together and pay tribute to our men and women in uniform. This year’s annual gala in Washington, DC was attended by Members of Congress, military leadership, as well as service members and their families from around the globe. During the gala, the USO recognized service members from each military branch and volunteers who represent the epitome of valor and dedication to service.

    Last week, Joining Forces was thrilled to greet the 2014 USO Service Member Honorees and Volunteers of the Year at the White House for a tour of the East Wing.

    The 2014 USO Gala Service Members Honorees included the United States’:

    • Army Soldier of the Year, Sergeant Andrew J. Mahoney
    • Marine of the Year, Matthew E. Belleci
    • Sailor of the Year, Petty Officer 1st Class Troy A. Cromer
    • Airman of the Year, John C. Hamilton
    • Coast Guardsman of the Year, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brett R. Bates
    • National Guardsman of the Year, Andrew J. Mehltretter
    • Volunteers of the Year LeAnn Thornton and U.S. Army Sergeant Geraldin “Thibaut” Lenkoue

     

  • The First Lady Teams Up with Redbook to Support Female Veterans

    The First Lady teams up with Redbook to help female veterans get jobs

    Earlier today, Redbook unveiled their November issue, which features First Lady Michelle Obama and is dedicated to helping female veterans get jobs. The issue highlights five female veterans who visited the White House to speak with the First Lady about the Joining Forces initiative and their experiences transitioning into civilian life.

    The November issue also highlights how all Americans can help support women veterans, and provides resources for women veterans seeking employment.

    Learn more about the November issue and join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #HireWomenVets.

  • 2014 National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week

    September 21-27 marks National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week – a week that highlights the importance of employers and businesses that support members of the National Guard and Reserve components across all military branches.

    President Obama’s 2014 proclamation to commemorate the week not only commends these employers, but also makes clear that “everyone can do something” to help Guard and Reserve members and their families:

    Our country is grateful to all our Guardsmen and Reservists and the employers who stand behind them and their families.  By providing workplace flexibility and helping the advancement of their civilian careers, employers ease the burden on those who serve and their loved ones.  And we appreciate all our country's businesses that go above and beyond in small and large ways to recognize our patriots.  We know that when it comes to supporting our Nation's heroes, everybody can do something -- every business, every school, and every American.