Joining Forces Blog

  • Energy Literacy for Women Veterans – A Strong Economic Future

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Energy website. You can find the original post here.

    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.

  • Of Selfless Sacrifice and Shared Burdens

    Clara Gantt Reunited with Husband

    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.

  • TAPS Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Good Grief Camps on Memorial Day Weekend

    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.

  • 10 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day in Your National Parks

    Spring sunset on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park.

    Spring sunset on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. (by National Park Service)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the National Parks Foundation blog. See the original post here.

    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.

  • Medal of Honor Recipient Kyle White’s New Mission

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the VAntage Point blog. See the original post here.

    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.”

  • VetCap Kicks Off First Workshop in a National Initiative to Help Veteran Entrepreneurs

    Joining Forces is proud to applaud VetsinTech, an organization linking veterans with the technology industry.

    Yesterday, as a result of the recent White House Veterans Entrepreneurship Workshop – co-sponsored by Joining Forces and the Office of Science and Technology Policy – VetsinTech hosted an inaugural “VetCap” workshop in San Francisco.

    VetCap is a series of national workshops focused on educating veterans on where and how to raise capital. The workshops also connect veterans to a network of financial sources.

    Yesterday’s workshop involved a panel of investors and lenders from the major capital categories, and a series of discussions on where to access capital and how to pitch investors. Veteran entrepreneurs from around the country participated in the event, including veterans who had the opportunity to pitch their own startups to the panel of expert investors.

    Entrepreneurs and small businesses are a big driver of our national economy, and veterans often possess a set of skills that make them uniquely well-suited for success. Studies show veterans are more likely to be self-employed than their peers with no military experience.

    Recognizing the enormous potential of our service members, VetCap strives to expand opportunity for veteran entrepreneurship – and yesterday’s kick-off workshop is just the beginning. 

    Commander Cara LaPointe, U.S. Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady.