“We have an all-volunteer force—and it continues only because generations of Americans see the honor, dignity, and patriotism of military service. How can we hope to keep our military strong if we don’t give our families, survivors, and caregivers what they need to thrive? That’s what Joining Forces is about.”

FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN, AT A VIRTUAL JOINING FORCES EVENT ON APRIL 7, 2021.

What is Joining Forces?

Joining Forces is a White House initiative to support military families, which includes: families of service members and veterans, caregivers and survivors. Our work is driven by their experiences.

First Lady Jill Biden participates in a tour and greets children Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at the Child Development Center at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. (Official White House Photo by Kevin Lowery)

Focus Areas

Guided by the life experiences and the perspectives voiced during in-person and virtual listening sessions with military families and stakeholders, the work and priorities of Joining Forces will center on the needs of military families in the areas of: Employment and Entrepreneurship; Military Child Education; and Health and Well-Being.

  • Employment and Entrepreneurship: The Department of Defense’s 2019 Active Duty Spouses Survey indicates, even pre-pandemic, a military spouse unemployment rate of approximately 22%. Frequent moves and transfers, state licensing requirements, child care (costs, long waitlists for on-base providers, and lack of access to off-base providers), caregiving, and deployments, all contribute to the unique challenges military spouses face to building sustainable and long-term careers. Joining Forces will work with government at all levels and the non-profit and private sectors to mitigate these challenges and drive economic opportunities. We will work with employers to create more flexible, transferable, and remote job opportunities for military spouses, as well as increasing resources for those interested in entrepreneurial endeavors. We will also ensure that military families are included in the administration’s overall policies aimed at improving economic security for all families.
  • Military Child Education: There are more than 2 million children in classrooms in the United States whose parents are active-duty military service members, National Guard or reservists, or military veterans. Military life can be unpredictable: these children often experience multiple moves, extended separation from family members, and increased fear for their parents’ safety during deployments. We must understand and account for the lifelong impact of service on military-connected children and ensure that children in veteran families, caregiving families, and surviving families will also be included in the initiative’s work. We also recognize that military children with disabilities, including those enrolled in DOD’s Exceptional Family Member Program, face additional challenges with changes of duty station. Joining Forces will advance programming to support military-connected children in their classrooms, and help ease the burdens created by the highly mobile military lifestyle.
  • Health and Well-Being: Supporting the overall physical, social, and emotional health of military families is a national security imperative. While our country lauds the strength and resilience of military families, it is critical to acknowledge that they too shoulder the weight of the past 20 years of sustained warfare. Members of military families and caregivers may experience mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Caregiving for a wounded, ill, or injured family member can have an outsized impact on a caregiver’s health, financial stability, and economic security. Additionally, some military families report a lack of consistent access to enough food to live an active, healthy lifestyle. The global pandemic over the past year has intensified these stressors. We will also work closely with service providers in the civilian community to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to effectively support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors.

The Joining Forces Blog


Resources

Military OneSource is a 24/7 connection to information, answers and support to help military families reach their goals, overcome challenges, and thrive. As a member of a military family, you are eligible to use this no-cost program anytime, anywhere. Turn to Military OneSource for non-medical counseling, spouse employment help, relocation and deployment tools, and much more. Visit the website or download the My Military OneSource mobile app. Download the My Military OneSource mobile app or access the Military OneSource website.

Military families can make owning a business a reality. The Spouse Education and Career Opportunity tools and resources are available to help research, investigate the possibilities, and find support to plan and grow your business. Learn more from the SECO Entrepreneurship site.

The Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership connects military spouses with hundreds of partner employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote, and retain military spouses. Find a job on the Military Spouse Employment Partnership portal.

Military Spouse Transition Program (MySTeP) is made for military spouses to provide support and encouragement throughout the service member’s time in the military. MySTeP helps plan and prepare for the life your family wants after transitioning out of the military, whenever that time comes. Connect with the right resources at the right time with MySTeP online resources.

Military families may be eligible for Department of Defense child care fee assistance to help pay for child care providers in the community if unable to access care on an installation.  Find more information about Military Child Care Fee Assistance Programs online at Childcare.gov.

School Liaisons serve as the primary DoD point of contact for school-related matters for military families and provide parents with information on available schooling options and support for transitions, deployment, homeschooling, special education, and other Pre-K through 12 education matters. They serve as the primary liaison between school districts, commanders, community stakeholders, and parents. Access educational resources to support military children.

EFMP & Me is a digital tool offering families with special needs 24/7 access to standardized information and resources. The tool is customized to meet the specific needs of service members, family members, providers, and military leaders and enables users to quickly navigate services, connect with resources, and advocate for themselves and family members with special needs. Use the Exceptional Family Member Program tool.

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides support, resources, and programs to caregivers of veterans. Visit the VA Caregiver Support website.

Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. Learn more online at VA.gov.

First Lady Jill Biden meets with military families during a barbeque
First Lady Jill Biden meets with military families during a barbeque on Sunday, July 25, 2021, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii.
First Lady Jill Biden listens as a military child delivers remarks
First Lady Jill Biden listens as a military child delivers remarks Saturday, July 3, 2021, during a visit with National Guard families at Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
First Lady Jill Biden shakes the hand of a young military child
First Lady Jill Biden shakes the hand of a young military child as she meets with families of the New Hampshire National Guard Saturday, July 3, 2021, at Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
First Lady Jill Biden meets with members of Bude Surf veterans and their families
First Lady Jill Biden meets with members of Bude Surf veterans and their families Saturday, June 12, 2021, at the Newlyn Art Gallery in Penzance, England.
First Lady Jill Biden participates in a conversation with military spouses
First Lady Jill Biden participates in a conversation with military spouses Wednesday, June 9, 2021, during a visit to the Royal Air Force Mildenhall, in Mildenhall England.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wave to service members
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wave to service members and their families on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, during their visit to the Royal Air Force Mildenhall in Mildenhall, England.
First Lady Jill Biden celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Day
First Lady Jill Biden celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Day with military spouses Thursday, May 6, 2021, at Fort Carson, Colorado.
First Lady Jill Biden poses for a “Purple Up” photo with staff
First Lady Jill Biden poses for a “Purple Up” photo with staff in recognition of the Month of the Military Child Friday, April 30, 2021, at the White House.
First Lady Jill Biden disembarks an MV-22 Osprey after visiting Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms to meet with military families in March 2021.
At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, First Lady Jill Biden tours the first-ever children’s museum on a military installation and watches a demonstration of a sensorial exhibit, where children can experience the unique environment of the Pacific Northwest. The museum is a partnership between the base and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.
Military spouses share their stories with First Lady Jill Biden during a listening session at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in March 2021.
First Lady Jill Biden visits with a Naval flight officer from an EA-18G Growler squadron at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in March 2021.
First Lady Jill Biden hears from military families during a listening session at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in March 2021.
First Lady Jill Biden was joined virtually by military families, advocates, and stakeholders from around the world to set forth the priorities of Joining Forces on April 7, 2021.
First Lady Jill Biden tours the Military OneSource call center in Arlington, Virginia on April 7, 2021, and learns about the resources and support available for active-duty service members, National Guard and reserves, recently separated veterans, families, and survivors through the Department of Defense program.

Crisis Line Information

If you or a loved one are in crisis, you don’t have to face it alone. The Military Crisis Line offers free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for all servicemembers, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors.

Contact the Military Crisis Line if you or a loved one are thinking about hurting yourself or having thoughts of suicide. The Military Crisis Line is staffed by caring, qualified responders, many of whom are veterans and understand the challenges that members of the military and their families face.

Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, Chat online or Text 838255.

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We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

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