Joining Forces Blog
- Posted byon January 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM EDT
As part of our Family Friday Blog series, I’d like to highlight the United Through Reading Organization, which allows separated military service members to connect with their children or relatives through recorded stories.
United Through Reading gives deployed service members the opportunity to be video-recorded while reading a story to their children or other relatives. This contact creates emotional connections which helps to reduce the stress of deployment. Service members are able to record their readings at nearly 200 stations worldwide, which can be found here.
Since its beginning in 1989, over 1.5 million children, parents, and other caring adults have participated in United Through Reading, which has helped make the lives of separated military families a little easier. Organizations like United Through Reading are very appreciated in the military community and help increase military and family readiness.
For more information on the United Through Reading Organization, please visit their website at http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/.
Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces
- Posted byon January 15, 2014 at 6:16 PM EDT
Knowing what VA benefits are available to you isn’t always clear when you’re a newly separated military service member or even one that has been separated for a while. Lucky for us, VA benefits can be viewed and managed at eBenefits.va.gov. With this online platform, veterans and their families can apply for and monitor their benefits, and obtain important documents like their DD-214. This website contains a lot of valuable information and every veteran should create an account so they can stay up-to-date on their VA military benefits.
VA military benefits increase the health and wellness of our veterans and their families. Learning how to access them is an important step to helping our veterans and their families reach optimal health and wellness.
Please watch this video to see how eBenefits can help you navigate your benefits:
For even more information, please go to eBenefits.va.gov.
Rory Brosius is the Deputy Director for Joining Forces.
- Posted byon January 13, 2014 at 6:52 PM EDTLast week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of December.The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 5.5 percent last month—a decrease from 6.7 percent in November and more than a point below the national average of 6.7 percent. This is the lowest Veteran unemployment has been in five years.For post-9/11 Veterans, the rate dropped to 7.3 percent in December, compared to 9.9 percent in November – but a when compared to 10.8 percent in December 2012 it’s even more significant.In short, more Veterans are getting hired due to a national focus on hiring Veterans. That is good news, but there is still much more to do to ensure Veterans continue to find meaningful employment. We often send out information on Twitter or Facebook highlighting programs or opportunities for Veteran employment, and as a Veteran I find it gratifying to see the country working to help get our Vets back on their feet in so many ways. From the tech industry, to Red Cross-hosted job fairs, to training in the food service industry, Operation Good Jobs to the National Cemetery Administration’s training program for homeless Veterans, the efforts to combat Veteran unemployment continue to put our Vets to work.Included below are graphs to illustrate the unemployment rate for all Veterans and post 9-11-Veterans. Below, you can see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010. The long-term trend shows a clear decrease.
- Posted byon December 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM EDT
Last week, Phoenix, Arizona became the first city to reduce the number of chronically homeless veterans living in the city to zero. There is more work to be done to eliminate overall veteran homelessness, but this achievement is a significant milestone for the nationwide push to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
In 2009, President Obama, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, made it a top priority to support veterans who lack safe, secure housing. With the help of supporters and cities across the country, they have reduced veteran homelessness by 24 percent since 2010 and are on track to hit their overall goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.
Joining Forces congratulates Phoenix, Arizona and Mayor Stanton for their accelerated efforts and for their investments in ending chronic homelessness. As other cities, such as Salt Lake City and Philadelphia, accelerate toward eradicating veteran homelessness, we hope that mayors and cities across the country will follow the outstanding example set by Phoenix and join in on this important effort.
As the First Lady has said, “We need to uphold the dignity and rights of every veteran. And that starts by keeping up our campaign to end homelessness among veterans.”
From the national level to each individual citizen, we can all do something to meet the needs of our veterans. They stepped up to defend and protect our freedoms, now it’s our turn serve them.
Click here to learn about getting involved in the fight to end veteran homelessness.
Commander Cara LaPointeis a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady.
- Posted byon December 22, 2013 at 12:28 PM EDT
1. Volunteer in your local community
Volunteering in your local community in honor of our military service members, veterans and their families is a great way to show your support and appreciation. There are many ways to get involved in your local community; you can volunteer with a local organization or start a volunteer project.
2. Pledge hours of community service for Blue Star Families
Take a moment to pledge hours of community service for Blue Star Families in honor of our military communities.
3. Lay a wreath to honor the fallen
Pay respect and honor to those who fought to protect our freedoms by laying a wreath on the tomb of a fallen soldier.
4. Send a message of thanks
As we gather with our loved ones, take a moment to our military service members, veterans and their families are appreciated by sending a message of thanks through the USO.
5. A simple thank you
When you see a veteran or any military personnel, shake their hand and simply say "thank you." If you know a military family, pick up the phone to let them know they are appreciated. This simple act of kindness will brighten up their day and make them feel appreciated.
Col. Rich Morales is Executive Director of Joining Forces
- Posted byon December 20, 2013 at 4:29 PM EDT
Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. to deliver hundreds of toys that Executive Office of the President staff donated to the United States Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign, an annual holiday toy drive.
While there, Mrs. Obama welcomed home a group of Marines that just returned from Afghanistan:
I hear that there are four Marines at this base that just returned home from Afghanistan last week, right in time for the holidays. So I just want to take a moment to say on behalf of myself and my husband, your Commander-In-Chief, welcome home.
Then Mrs. Obama thanked military families for all they do throughout the year, while still finding time to run programs like Toys for Tots.
Most people don’t understand that you do all of this service on top of all of the challenges that you face as service members and as military families. And that’s the example that I think the rest of the country needs to see -- that even in the midst of your challenges, you find a way to give back to those less fortunate.
And that’s what makes me proud. That’s what makes me want to step up and do whatever I can to support this effort and to support you all as men and women, and as young men and women -- young heroes, our military kids, who do so much sacrificing. And I really don’t know how you all do it....But I am grateful that you are who you are, and that you make those sacrifices.
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