Joining Forces Blog
- Posted byon February 12, 2014 at 4:39 PM EDT
On Friday, January 31, the Mario Lemieux Foundation announced the opening of an Austin’s Military Playroom at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. This playroom will serve many military and veteran families in the San Diego area by giving their children a place to have fun and relax while they receive care at the hospital.
As an active duty service member and mother of three, I understand the importance of having a place for kids to unwind and relax, especially during trying times. This playroom means that military and veteran parents will deal with a bit less stress when they spend time at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton.
This military playroom is the second of its kind opened by the Mario Lemieux foundation. The first was opened at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland in 2011. To read more about the Austin’s Military Playroom opening at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, read here.
The Lemieux Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and patient care, as well as Austin’s Playroom Project.
Commander Cara LaPointe, US Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady
First Lady Michelle Obama Announces that the Construction Industry Will Hire 100,000 Veterans Over the Next 5 YearsPosted byon February 10, 2014 at 2:52 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed well over 300 stakeholders from the military, business community, and federal government at the first ever Veterans’ Employment in Construction Symposium at the Department of Labor. The First Lady announced that more than 100 companies in the construction industry are committing to hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next 5 years.
This announcement is a testament to what can happen when employers think bigger than their own company’s needs and come together to leverage their industry’s resources. Associations like NCCER and the Home Builder’s Institute, as well as those supported by the Building Trades, Associated General Contractors of America, and firms partnered with Helmets to Hardhats’ are banding together to train the next generation of workers.
In her remarks, The First Lady noted that, “America’s military turns out some of the highest-skilled, hardest-working employees this country has ever seen.” Veterans have the experience and skills necessary to succeed in any career and today we thank the construction industry for this innovative commitment. This visionary effort is addressing the need for improved transition support and skills development in this ever growing field.
We urge other sectors, firms, and associations to view veterans as an investment in their organization and America.
To review the First Lady’s speech, please click here.
Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces.
- Posted byon February 7, 2014 at 9:11 PM EDT
Nine soldiers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program are members of the U.S. Olympic Team that will compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, scheduled for Feb. 7 through 23 in Sochi, Russia.
The U.S. Olympic Committee officially announced the team Jan. 27.
The soldier-athletes named to Team USA are 2010 Olympic gold medalist in four-man bobsled Sgt. Justin Olsen, 26, of San Antonio; 2010 Olympic bobsledder Capt. Christopher Fogt, 30, of Alpine, Utah; 2010 Olympic bobsledder Sgt. Nick Cunningham, 27, of Monterey, Calif.; bobsledder Sgt. Dallas Robinson, 31, of Georgetown, Ky.; 2006 Olympic luger Sgt. Preston Griffall, 29, of Salt Lake City; and luger Sgt. Matt Mortensen, 28, of Huntington Station, N.Y.
Three WCAP coaches also will represent the U.S. Army in Russia. Team USA luge coach Staff Sgt. Bill Tavares, 50, of Lake Placid, N.Y., will be making his sixth appearance in the Olympics, including once as an athlete and five times as a coach. Team USA skeleton coach Sgt. 1st Class Tuffield “Tuffy” Latour, 45, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., will make his fourth trip to the Olympics. He has coached U.S. and Canadian men’s and women’s bobsledders to Olympic medals. Team USA assistant bobsled coach 1st Lt. Michael Kohn, 41, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a two-time Olympic competitor who will make his Olympic coaching debut at the Sochi Games. He won a bronze medal in four-man bobsled as a WCAP athlete at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
USA-1 bobsled driver Steven Holcomb, 33, of Park City, Utah, is the reigning Olympic champion in the four-man event. He spent seven years in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
- Posted byon February 5, 2014 at 6:10 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Huffington Post. See the original post here.
Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host a Wounded Warrior barbecue at the Naval Observatory Residence, Sept. 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Earlier today, at an event on the expanding role of caregivers in our society, I had the opportunity to tell the story of two remarkable young men I met at a reception my husband Joe and I hosted for Wounded Warriors on Sept. 11, 2013.
Kyle and Brett Pletzke are brothers from Rockford, Michigan. Kyle is an Army Specialist who was injured on his first deployment to Afghanistan in late 2012. Kyle sustained multiple pelvis fractures, an ankle injury, and nerve damage to most of his right leg.
When Kyle first came to the White House in 2013, he was in a wheelchair. A few months later when he came to our home for the reception, he was walking.
Kyle credits much of his progress to the fact that his older brother Brett was able to serve as his primary caregiver during his recovery. And Brett notes that the reason he was able to help Kyle was because of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Caregiver Rule, which provides training, counseling, supportive services, and a living stipend to post-9/11 veterans' caregivers.
Because of the Rule, Brett's employer kept his job open so Brett had the time to care for his brother. Now Brett's back at his job in Chicago, and Kyle is doing great. Like the brothers' situation illustrates, these support systems can have a significant impact on the day-to-day hardships caregivers face.
- Posted byon February 4, 2014 at 8:18 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Veterans Affairs' VAntage Point blog. See the original post here.
What’s the first thing you do when shopping for a big-ticket item? You might shop around, ask friends and relatives for their opinion, or compare items online. In today’s world of instant online access to a wealth of consumer information – from online reviews to infographics comparing products, product websites, and online shopping sites – consumers are used to finding and comparing information online before they buy.
Thanks to VA’s new GI Bill® Comparison Tool, you can now find information online about Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and the schools and training programs available to education beneficiaries.
Before this tool launched, estimating how much beneficiaries may receive under the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit was challenging. Many beneficiaries provided this feedback to our GI Bill Facebook page. The new comparison tool makes it easy to estimate Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits with just one click.
In addition, you can find and compare information on our 10,000+ approved education and training programs, including estimated tuition and fee amounts and your projected housing allowance. Also available are each school’s graduation rate, student loan default rate, and Yellow Ribbon participation. Together, the GI Bill benefit estimator and school comparison information enable students to compare education options and make the best decision for their future.
Also, for the first time, VA is publicly releasing information about the number of students receiving VA education benefits at a particular school. Through the online comparison tool, students can now see how many Veterans attend the school of their choice. In the future, VA will add additional functionality to the tool, including the ability to compare up to three schools side-by-side.
Curtis Coy is VA’s Deputy Undersecretary for the Office of Economic Opportunity.
- Posted byon February 2, 2014 at 7:40 PM EDT
Today, during Super Bowl XLVIII, the First Lady and Dr. Biden described the sacrifices that service members, veterans, and military families have made for this country. At the end of their message, they asked Americans to find new ways to salute and support our military and veteran communities so that our country can preserve the rights and freedoms that we all hold so dear.
To show your support for our service members, veterans, and military families, please explore the Joining Forces website. Share your message of thanks for a military family here, and discover ways to get involved with service opportunities here.
Show our nation’s heroes and their families that America has become the nation it is because of them.
Rory Brosius is the Deputy Director for Joining Forces.
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