Before leaving Singapore this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a BBQ with U.S. service members and their families stationed in Singapore, as well as crewmen from the USS Fitzgerald, docked in Singapore at the time. Joe and I also visited with service members, their families, and DOD employees in Hawaii, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. When Joe and I travel, we love nothing more than to meet with our men and women in uniform and their families to thank them for their service and sacrifice.
Military families face so many challenges, as spouses get deployed and families move around. When I was in Singapore, I met a woman who was in the Navy and she told me that this was her 14th move. As a military mom, I understand a bit of what these families are going through. Our son Beau was deployed for a year to Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and our son Hunter is an Ensign in the Navy Reserves. This experience, as well as the joys and concerns we heard from military families as we traveled around the world led First Lady Michele Obama and I to start Joining Forces. It is our hope that we can rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families. Joining Forces brings together public and private resources to help with the employment, education, and wellness of our veterans, servicemen and women, and their families.
Right now, the VA is hosting mental health summits across the nation. The First Lady and I are so pleased to see these Summits taking place, putting families and communities at the center of mental health treatment. We are working on spousal licensing laws so that nurses or teachers in military families do not need to go through the process for a new certification every time they move. We are encouraged by the progress of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact so that when children move from state to state there is a uniform policy to help with enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility, and graduation in both education and extra-curricular activities.
With everything Joining Forces does, there is always more progress to be made. I cherish the opportunity to spend time with our service members and their families to hear how the First Lady and I can continue to learn the best ways to help our military families. And we can never thank them enough for their service and sacrifice. President Kennedy put it best when he said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Joining Forces is committed to recognizing the tireless commitment of our military families, and I hope that all Americans will take time to truly thank them for their service to our nation.