Joining Forces Blog

  • The First Lady Celebrates Military Families Stationed in Italy

    Michelle Obama delivers remarks at U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Joining Forces Initiative event at U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza in Vicenza, Italy, June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Today the First Lady and her daughters, Malia Obama and Sasha Obama, and her mother, Marion Robinson, visited the military service members and families stationed at U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, Italy. Knowing that children of military families face unique challenges when their parents are deployed, the First Lady began her visit by meeting with the children of service members. This portion of the event was part of “Books on Bases,” a partnership between Disney and Blue Star Families aimed at positively impacting the lives of military children through the power of reading. Mrs. Obama and her daughters met with more than 300 military-related children and read them two books. The First Lady and the Garrison Commander, Colonel Robert Menist, shared a book titled Don’t Play with Your Food, while Sasha and Malia Obama read the children Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. This fun and engaging event, featuring Mickey Mouse himself, focused on the positive power reading can have on the children’s outlook on life during times of parental separation. In addition, each child in Grades 1-3 went home with a selection of books donated by Disney.

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Malia Obama help serve ice cream to military families

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Malia Obama help serve ice cream to military families as part of a Joining Forces Initiative event at U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza in Vicenza, Italy, June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Next, the First Lady and her family participated in a base-wide barbecue hosted by the USO. During her remarks to the audience, the First Lady personally thanked the military service members and families in attendance for their service to our country and reminded them that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed by the American people. Then, the First Lady and her family volunteered to help serve food to the troops and families in attendance. It was a wonderful opportunity for the members of the U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza and their families to relax together, enjoy great food and music, and be reminded that the American people are grateful for their service overseas.

    First Lady Michelle Obama surprises a baby shower in Italy

    First Lady Michelle Obama surprises new mothers and mothers-to-be during a Joining Forces Initiative surprise baby shower and discussion about the opportunities and challenges of raising military families while stationed overseas, at U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza in Vicenza, Italy, June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    Finally, the First Lady surprised 28 soon-to-be and new moms with a fantastic baby shower. The expectant parents were overjoyed to learn that a roundtable discussion with Mrs. Obama was actually an Operation Shower baby shower. Each family received a box of gifts for their new baby, and gift cards from Operation Shower. The women were also treated to a "shopping spree" of clothing, accessories, and beauty products hosted by GLAM4GOOD, a fashion and beauty initiative. Of note, this was Operation Shower’s 60th baby shower, and their first overseas event. The First Lady was excited to celebrate with these military spouses. While some of these soon-to-be fathers won’t be there for Father’s Day, the First Lady wanted to ensure these new moms were treated to a day they’ll never forget. Once the shock of the surprise sunk in, the expectant and new moms were able to share their thoughts on life as a military family overseas and even exchanged some parenting advice with the First Lady.

    Nicole Malachowski is the Executive Director of Joining Forces.

  • Dr. Jill Biden Sponsors and Christens the USS Gabrielle Giffords

    On Saturday in Mobile, Alabama, Dr. Jill Biden took part in the christening ceremony for the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10). The ship is named after former Congresswoman and Navy spouse Gabby Giffords. In the words of Dr. Jill Biden, Gabby is part of “an incredible military family, who gives true meaning to the ideals of honor, courage, and commitment.” Dr. Biden, a proud military mom herself, was asked to be the ship’s sponsor. 

    Dr. Jill Biden Christens the USS Giffords

    Dr. Jill Biden breaks a champagne bottle across the bow of the future USS GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (LCS 10) during the ship's christening ceremony held Saturday, June 13, at the Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, AL. Watching Dr. Biden christen the ship are, from left: Mr. Craig Perciavalle, President, Austal USA; CAPT Mark Kelly, USN (Ret); and his wife and the ship's namesake, the Honorable Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative, Arizona's 8th District. June 13, 2015. (Official White House Photo by SSGC Public Affairs Officer David Stoltz)

  • Joining Forces Announces New Executive Director

    Nicole Malachowski

    On behalf of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, we are pleased to welcome United States Air Force Colonel, select, Nicole Malachowski as the new Executive Director of Joining Forces.

    We are excited to have Nicole as part of the Joining Forces team, where she will continue the initiative’s work to support our veterans, service members, and military families. Nicole is the first woman to serve as the Executive Director of Joining Forces, and succeeds Colonel Steve Parker, who is returning to the U.S. Army after an inspiring year with Joining Forces. 

    Nicole is a dedicated public servant with a record of leadership in the United States Air Force. During her two decades of service, she has served as an operational F-15E pilot in three fighter squadrons, and has flown nearly 200 combat hours in Operation Deliberate Forge, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and homeland defense missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Nicole served as the first woman pilot to be part of the United States Air Force Air Demonstration, also known as the Thunderbirds. While at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, she served as a commander of the 333rd Fighter Squadron.

  • Thanking and Supporting Our Military Caregivers

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation's Hidden Heroes Coalition Summit

    First Lady Michelle Obama, in support of the Joining Forces initiative, delivers remarks at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation's Hidden Heroes Coalition Summit: Progress and Promise, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., May 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Sen. Elizabeth Dole at the Hidden Heroes Summit, an event focusing on caregivers of service members and veterans. During the event, the First Lady announced a partnership between the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Give an Hour’s Campaign to Change Direction. Together, these organizations will work to educate and empower military and veteran caregivers around mental health.

    The First Lady was introduced by Kathleen (Kat) Causey, a military caregiver who exemplifies what it means to be a hidden hero. In 2011, as Kat was preparing to finish her college degree, her husband of 18 months, Aaron, was catastrophically injured in Afghanistan. The blast cost him both of his legs, and Kat has cared for her husband throughout his recovery and rehabilitation.

  • Kids Serve, Too

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Office of Science and Technology Policy blog. See the original post here.

    As we honor our service members and veterans during Military Appreciation Month this May, it’s important to remember that kids serve, too.

    It’s often not easy being the child of a military family, particularly when it comes to one’s education. Children of our nation’s service members attend six to nine different school systems on average, moving about every two years before they graduate from high school. Those transitions can make it hard to stay on track toward the goal of higher education. That is why Joining Forces, led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, with support from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is celebrating the work of organizations like the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which is expanding support to military-connected students.

  • The First Lady, Dr. Biden, and Ben Folds Celebrate Military-Connected Moms

    To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day and an early Mother's Day, the First Lady and Dr. Biden invited military-connected moms to the White House for their annual Mother’s Day Tea.

    These mothers, grandmothers, and their guests enjoyed sandwiches, cupcakes, and shortbreads with a selection of teas and juices. Kids came too to make Mother’s Day gifts of petal potpourri, lace-topped cupcakes, and even potted-flower cakes.

    The First Lady and Dr. Biden greeted the spouses, thanked all military-connected moms, and recognized their service.