Joining Forces Blog

  • Platoon Honors Veterans and Servicemembers at Arlington

    Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment

    Spc. Kevin Morthorst (right), infantryman, Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and members of his squad, return to the Caisson horse stables after performing various funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Nov. 9. On this day, Morthorst preformed his 1,000th memorial ceremony with the Caisson platoon. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

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

    Most people know about The Old Guard and its role as caretaker of Arlington National Cemetery. Images of soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown, despite rain or snow, are famous throughout the world. However, the regiment’s mission is more involved than what meets the eye.

    The Old Guard’s primary mission is to render honors and conduct the funeral ceremonies of departed Veterans and Servicemembers. They also assist grieving families in coping with the loss of a loved one.

  • Join Joining Forces for a PCS Twitter Q&A

    Moving is a fact of life for most of our military service members and their families. Within the military community, relocating from one base (or post) to another base is commonly known as a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), and summer is a busy time for PCS moves.

    A PCS move can be stressful for military families, and for many who are facing a first-time move—or maybe even their third or fourth—relocating can lead to a lot of questions.

    If you have PCS questions or advice to share with fellow military members and their families, join us on Wednesday, August 13 at 2:00 p.m. ET, for a Joining Forces #PCSchat Twitter Q&A.

    Here are the details:

    • Ask your PCS questions on Twitter ahead of the Q&A using the hashtag #PCSchat
    • Follow the Q&A live through the @JoiningForces Twitter handle and with the #PCSchat hashtag
    • Jump in during the Q&A on Wed. Aug. 13 at 2pm ET and answer the #PCSchat questions posed by @JoiningForces
    • If you miss the live Q&A, don’t worry, we’ll post the questions and some of the best answers right here and at

  • Spotlight on Troops to Teachers: Martin K. Screen

    Martin Screen

    Troops to Teachers participant Martin Screen in his 8th grade math class in 2012. (Photo submitted by Martin Screen)

    August’s Troops to Teachers Spotlight, Martin Screen, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, teaches seventh and eighth grade math at Eddie White K8 Academy in Hampton, Georgia. Before beginning his second career as a math teacher, Mr. Screen served for 22 years as a communications specialist in the Air Force. Like most in the military, his assignments crossed the globe – several times. Nine US states and Japan, Germany and Saudi Arabia were “home” to Mr. Screen and his family at one point or another. He says that each assignment was filled with wonderful memories, opportunities and experiences.  

    During his service, Mr. Screen was committed to completing his studies and enrolled in the University of Maryland University College during his first assignment in Japan. He continued to pursue a degree, one class at a time, and during his tour in Germany, he completed his bachelor’s degree. 

  • DOT, FMCSA Expand Licensing Program to Help America's Veterans Get Jobs

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's Fast Lane Blog

    At the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we have been working hard to support our active duty troops and experienced veterans as they make the often difficult transition from military life to civilian careers.

    We do this not only because we owe our troops a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice to our nation, but also because we truly need their skills and training to fill the transportation-related jobs that help keep our economy moving.

    That's why I'm proud to share a recent milestone that Vice President Biden announced this week at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) conference: FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program has now been expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    This means that veterans who drove heavy duty vehicles in the military can earn a Commercial Driver’s License --and find work that fits their experience-- without having to take the skills portion of their state's licensing exam.

    Military Truck Driving

    Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

  • Oldest Living Female WWII Veteran Welcomed to the White House by the President and Vice President

    Vice President Biden greets Lucy Coffey the oldest living female WWII veteran

    Vice President Joe Biden greets Lucy Coffey, 108, the oldest living female World War II veteran, in his West Wing Office, July 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    When her country called during World War II, Lucy Coffey answered. Three months after her 37th birthday, Coffey quit her job at the local A&P grocery store and enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). Today, at age 108, Coffey is the oldest living female World War II veteran, and last week she received a warm welcome to the White House by President Obama and Vice President Biden during her visit to Washington, D.C. as part of the Honor Flight Network.

    Coffey was one of 400,000 American women who served in uniform during World War II, and during the war, she travelled through Australia, New Guinea, the Philippines, and eventually landed in Japan where she served as an account-statistician in the procurement office. During her WWII service, Coffey rose to the rank of sergeant and served in the Battle of Luzon, earning the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with a bronze star. She also earned an Asiatic Pacific Theatre Ribbon with one bronze star, a World War II Victory Medal, the WAC Service Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal.

    Following her discharge in 1945, Coffey continued to work as a civilian for the Army in Okinawa, Japan for 13 years, and then returned to Texas to continue her service in the procurement office at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas until her retirement in 1971.

    In addition to meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden, Coffey received a personal tour of both wings of the White House, and visited the Rose Garden.

    Watch the video below — we're sure it will make your day:

    Watch on YouTube

  • 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success Receives More than 400 College and University Commitments

    Last August, at the Disabled American Veterans National Convention, President Obama outlined key Administration priorities that ensure we are fulfilling our promises to those who have served our nation, including supporting our veterans in institutions of higher learning. In his speech, President Obama announced that 250 community colleges and universities committed to implementing the 8 Keys to Success program on their campuses.

    Developed by the Administration, the Department of Education (ED), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in conjunction with more than 100 education experts, the 8 Keys to Veterans' Success on campus are eight concrete steps that institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and service members transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there. Over the past year, the number of commitments have nearly doubled as more than 400 colleges and universities have affirmed their commitment to take the necessary steps to assist veterans and servicemembers in transitioning to higher education, completing their college programs, obtaining career-ready skills, and achieving success.