Joining Forces Blog

  • 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.

  • Dr. Jill Biden Shares the Story of the Military Child

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Reading Rainbow Blog. See the original post here.

    Earlier this month, Joe and I invited a few military families over to our home for dinner to celebrate the Month of the Military Child. We know we owe thanks every day to those who wear the uniform, but we also believe we owe a debt of gratitude to their families as well. Because when you have a family member who serves in the military, your whole family serves too.

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host a dinner for military families to celebrate the Month of the Military Child

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden host a dinner for military families to celebrate the Month of the Military Child, at the Naval Observatory Residence, in Washington, D.C., April 15, 2015. Also pictured is LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    There are so many military-connected children in this country, and on average these children will attend six to nine different schools before graduating high school. Frequent school changes mean you have to start over in your new community, from trying out for another sports team to making new friends. We know military parents try to do everything that they can to make those transitions as smooth as possible, but we also know it is not easy.

  • LeVar Burton’s Memories Of A Military Childhood

    This post is cross-posted from the blog of Reading Rainbow. See the original post here.

    LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow

    One of my most indelible memories from childhood comes from when my dad was stationed overseas in Germany when I was a kid. It wasn’t always easy living on base, where we didn’t have access to the most recent American movies, books, T.V. shows—all those pop-culture staples so important to schoolchildren. But that lack of access meant that the cultural staples we did have access to were devoured, treasured…and eventually bartered. American cultural items were currency to a military child, and the most valuable of that currency was comic books.

    When you lived on base, weekdays were for school, Sundays were for family, but Saturday mornings would find every kid out in the stairwells of the multi-story building we lived in, bartering and trading comic books. Each kid would set up “shop”, and the trading would begin. Imagine a cacophony of children’s voices and footsteps, running up and down from landing to landing, checking out each other’s supply, haggling over trades, eyes peeled for the newest issues and acquisitions. Each comic had a different value depending on the superhero, the child, and the household he or she lived in. You might be able to trade two Spidermans for one Batman, for example, or one new issue for two or three older issues.

    Eventually the trading would conclude—every kid happy with the trades they had made, or if not, there was always next week—and we would all go home to read the spoils of our bartering. If you were lucky you had enough to get you through the week to next Saturday. It was this experience as a child in a military family, and the excitement, comfort, and escape the comics provided, that helped spark my lifelong love of reading. Years have passed since those mornings spent trading comics on base, but the memory is as strong as ever.

    When a parent serves his or her country in the military, they don’t serve alone; their families and children serve as well. This week, in honor of “The Month of the Military Child,” we recognize the families and children of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.

    LeVar Burton was the host of the PBS children's television series Reading Rainbow, and is now the co-founder of RRKidz, Inc.

  • A Message From Space

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Medium.

    Today, we received an important message from space:

    As a proud military mom, and grandmother to military-connected children, I couldn’t agree more with Captain Scott Kelly. We have asked a lot of our military families and I believe they deserve the very best efforts of each of us to show them how much we appreciate their service to our country. That is why First Lady Michelle Obama and I started Joining Forces four years ago: to unite non-profits, schools, foundations, businesses, associations, and Americans of every stripe around this initiative to support these families  -- not just in word on Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day, but with good deeds and best efforts, each and every day of the year.

  • Honoring Women Veterans

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's blog. See the original post here.

    It’s inspiring to see that after serving their country nobly in the armed forces, so many women and men veterans choose to continue working for the American people through Federal civil service.

    The President has made increasing the hiring of veterans, and particularly women veterans, a top priority. As a result, in fiscal year 2014, one in three new Federal hires was a veteran. The actual rate was 33.2 percent, up from 31 percent in fiscal year 2013.

    As leaders of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, we share the President’s commitment to making sure that women leaving the military can easily transition to the Federal civil service. That’s why we created a women veterans initiative led by the Department of Homeland Security. Through that initiative, the Council today released a report that shows that nearly 24 percent of veterans hired in the civilian workforce in fiscal year 2013 were women vets, although women represent just 9 percent of all veterans.

    We can build on that. We know that women in general are underrepresented in the Federal workforce, especially in the skilled trades and law enforcement – two areas where many women veterans have significant expertise. We also know that women are statistically less likely to report their service when applying for new positions. We want to encourage them to make their military service known. We also want to help them find new opportunities to continue to serve their country through civilian public service, using the skills they honed while serving their country in the military.