Joining Forces Blog
- Posted byon July 9, 2013 at 4:22 PM EST
In 1941, more than 260,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms and fought under the American flag during World War II. Many made the ultimate sacrifice as both soldiers in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, and as recognized guerrilla fighters during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Later, many of these brave individuals became proud United States citizens. However, because of the Rescission Acts of 1946, most Filipino World War II Veterans did not receive compensation on par with United States veterans for their service to the United States.
President Obama recognizes the extraordinary contribution made by Filipino veterans. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which the President signed into law, included a provision creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. Eligible veterans who are U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $15,000; eligible veterans who are not U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $9,000.
To date, we are pleased that over 18,000 claims have been approved. However, many Filipino Veterans still believe that their claims were improperly denied, or that they did not receive a satisfactory explanation as to why their claims were denied. To address these concerns, in October 2012, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council, created the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund Interagency Working Group (IWG) comprised of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the National Archives and Record Administration. The IWG was tasked with analyzing the process faced by these Filipino veterans in demonstrating eligibility for compensation in order to ensure that all applications receive thorough and fair review.
- Posted byon July 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM EST
As a Nation we recognize the enormous sacrifices our military make on a daily basis in order to maintain a strong and ready force. Sustaining strong military readiness involves the entire family. Often, spouses choose to delay formal training and education in order to support the needs of the nation and their warrior partner. Spouses often mention to me that their life feels nomadic, moves taking place every 2-3 years. It’s important to note however that spouses are also vital for the economic stability of military families. It is estimated that approximately 83% of those entering military service depart the military prior to retirement. Most of our current military families will be competing in the job market and contributing to our economy for many more years outside of service than the time they served in the military. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics having a Bachelor’s degree nearly doubles the median annual wage an individual would earn. Currently, 84% of spouses have some college, 25% have a bachelor’s degree, and 10% have an advanced degree. Facilitating the opportunity to pursue higher education not only helps to support self-esteem and personal actualization, it can also strengthen financial stability for their families.
Over the last two years Joining Forces has committed to working with state legislatures and Governors to cut the red tape for military spouse credentialing and licensing portability. To date, there are 36 states that have enacted legislation with 9 more considering legislation this year. Credentialing and licensing portability are critical for military spouse employment, but prior to employment it is crucial for military spouses to be able to pursue the higher education needed to secure these qualifications.
Securing funding for school is vital for military spouses who are likely to move at least once if not more while attaining their degree or certifications. In 2009, the Post 9/11 GI Bill was created to allow service members to transfer their unused benefits to their spouse or dependent(s). Depending on the unused benefits this could provide up to 36 months of tuition assistance for spouses and dependents.
- Posted byon June 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM EST
Deployment can be a life-changing experience; not just for the service member, but also for the service member’s family. To help families adjust, The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving grants personalized, free, and confidential support through Operation Family Caregiver to all post-9/11 veterans and their families. At any time after deployment, a veteran and their family can begin the 4-6 month program which offers the services of a trained caregiver coach to provide information and personalized tools designed to make the adjustment to post-deployment life more manageable. The program is completely confidential, and no medical records are accessed or shared with others.
To reach more families in need, the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving is now offering Operation Family Caregiver in-home, via telephone, and by Skype. Many service members return home from deployment and live with Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress, and physical disabilities. Their spouses, parents, and other relatives and friends may be struggling, trying to balance caring for their loved ones with the demands of daily life and work. Guidance from a professional caregiver can vastly improve the life of a family coping with a number of common post-deployment issues.
Above all, the institute wants all veterans and their family members to know that they are not alone. Support is available.
Lieutenant Colonel Archie Bates, US Army, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady
- Posted byon June 24, 2013 at 2:20 PM EST
Today, Goodwill Industries International announced that it is launching a new initiative that aims to assist 3,000 women veterans over the next two years.
By the year 2020, women will represent over 10 percent of our nation’s veteran population. The new and expanded “Goodwill Serving America’s Heroes” initiative will take a holistic approach to the success of women leaving the Armed Forces by providing assistance with childcare costs, housing, support for those with disabilities, and connections to employers, to name a few.
Juanita Williams, currently employed as an ophthalmologist assistant, is a Navy veteran who utilized the services offered by Goodwill. She shared her opinion on Goodwill’s efforts. “Coming out of the service, we need this," she said. "We need these services that help us get back on our feet. They’ve helped me with child care, résumé writing classes, interview techniques and, of course, finding my employer.”
- Posted byon June 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM EST
Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Dr. Jill Biden is printed below. The piece is published today on The Huffington Post. The full text of the op-ed is printed below and the original can be found here.
During National Small Business Week it's important to recognize that small businesses are the backbone of the economy - they employ half the people in America and create 2 out of every 3 new jobs. Small businesses play a critical role in helping our economy, but to stay competitive they need access to a motivated, flexible and skilled workforce.
Over the past five years I've had the privilege of meeting veterans across the country and abroad. These are men and women who have led troops in battle, worked in high pressure situations and who can bring unique skills to our workforce. But, veterans and military spouses often struggle to find jobs.
Through initiatives like Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and I are working to bring together public-private partnerships to support America's veterans. Last year we kicked off a private sector challenge: hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. We were so proud that businesses answered the call - in fact last month we announced that businesses have hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses.
But there's still more work to be done and that's where great small business owners like John Stonecipher make a big difference. John is President and CEO of Guidance Aviation, a helicopter pilot training facility in Prescott, Arizona. Guidance Aviation currently employs 55 people... and nearly 50 percent of them are veterans. In 1998, John started with one helicopter and one employee. By 2009 he grew to 34 employees, six of whom were veterans. And by 2012, he had 55 employees and 24 were veterans.
John's dedication to our veterans goes beyond employment. John noticed a large demand for vocational training by veterans returning to civilian life. He worked with Yavapai College, as well as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Aviation Administration, to create an Associate of Applied Science Professional Helicopter Pilot Degree Program; 85 percent of his students are veterans.
John's found a niche as a business owner: he's using his expertise and love of flying to create a growing company, but his reliance on and commitment to the veteran community has become a business best practice. I'm proud to say that because of this, John Stoneceipher is 2013's National Small Business Owner of the Year! Congratulations!
Whether you have one employee or 100, small business owners across the country can follow John's lead by turning to veterans to help them grow and serve their customers.
- Posted byon June 19, 2013 at 9:33 AM EST
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an increasingly common injury suffered by our nation's men and women in uniform. Concussions, head injuries, and blast exposures from IED attacks are now recognized as some of the most common, dangerous, and difficult to treat of injuries that have emerged from over a decade of war. We are only beginning to understand the complex nexus between TBI and the heightened incidents of suicide, severe post-traumatic stress, and depression we have seen among our troops. Last year the U.S. military lost more service members to suicide than to combat. This startling statistic represents but a small fraction of the truly pressing mental health needs of America’s veterans.
To raise awareness and galvanize the efforts of the military and medical communities to address traumatic brain injury, earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosted the first Secretary of Defense Symposium on Traumatic Brain Injury. During this day long symposium, the foremost experts from the brain injury community shared the latest advancements in neuroscience research and clinical care with military and civilian leaders with the aim of synchronizing efforts and fostering innovative solutions. Senior leaders from the Department of Defense and private corporations including the Nation Football League, General Electric, and One Mind for Research participated in this important event Chaired by Anand Veeravagu, a neurosurgeon, 2013 White House Fellow, and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, the goal of this symposium was to raise awareness, accelerate military and civilian cooperation, and foster innovative approaches to prevention, research, and the treatment of traumatic brain injury and mental health issues.
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