Joining Forces Blog

  • A Mother’s Day Tea with the First Lady and Dr. Biden


    First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden help children create Mother's Day cards and crafts in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 12, 2014. The cards and crafts were to be presented later during a Joining Forces initiative tea honoring military mothers in the State Dining Room. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on The White House Blog. See the original post here.

    Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden invited more than 100 military mothers and their families to the White House for a Mother’s Day Tea. The military mothers in attendance included military spouses, active duty and reserve service members, and women veterans.

    While the military moms enjoyed tea and refreshments, more than 60 children made special gifts for their mothers including planting beans, decorating ceramic pots, and gift wrapping special White House honey lemon soap. The cards and crafts were presented during the tea ceremony in the State Dining Room.

    Before Grammy award-winning artist Norah Jones performed for the crowd, Dr. Biden and Mrs. Obama offered some words of thanks. Dr. Biden spoke of her own experiences as a military mom, and the support her family received during her son Beau’s deployment to Iraq.

    While our sons and daughters serve so selflessly, having a community share the burden makes all the difference in the world. And so for Mother’s Day, we wanted to simply say thank you to all the mothers who have loved and supported us. Thank you for all that you do for your selflessness and for your sacrifice on behalf of our country.

  • Joining Forces This Mother's Day

    Today, I had the pleasure of addressing the Mother's Day brunch for military moms and families hosted by the Association of the United States Army. My comments were about Joining Forces and our efforts to support veteran and military families. In addition to being a Commander in the United States Navy, I am also a military spouse and a military mom to three wonderful, and rather rambunctious, small children.

    My message was clear to the families in the audience:

    Overwhelmingly our nation recognizes that our service members and our veterans have made many sacrifices through their service, but so have their families. Every military spouse and every military child, each of you has served our country too. You have made sacrifices and you have endured uncertainty in your own lives in order for our military to be able to do its job ensuring the freedom of every person in this great Nation. Your sacrifices and your service are the reason that the First Lady and Dr. Biden created Joining Forces.

    Joining Forces was launched three years ago to ensure that all of our veterans and military families get the benefits, support and respect that they have earned and that they deserve. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden have called upon all sectors of society to step up and support veterans and military families. Across our Nation, public, private and nonprofit organizations are answering that call in the areas of employment, education, wellness, and beyond.

  • Spotlight on Troops to Teachers: Daniel Leija

    Daniel Leija is named the Texas Teacher of the Year

    Troops to Teachers participant Daniel Leija is named the 2011 Texas Teacher of the Year, Oct. 15, 2010. (Photo submitted by Daniel Leija)

    In March, we profiled Jorge Pulleiro, a former soldier who became a Spanish teacher with the help of the Troops to Teachers program. Today, on Teacher Appreciation Day, we wanted to recognize another outstanding participant in the Troops to Teachers program.

    Daniel Leija teaches kindergarten for students with special needs and fifth-grade math and science at Behlau Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas. Before becoming an elementary school teacher, Leija served in the U.S. Air Force. He worked with air evacuation units in North Carolina, Texas, and the Republic of Korea, serving in various support and training roles. In 1986, he had his first teaching experience as an instructor and as the non-commissioned officer in charge at the Enlisted Aeromedical Evacuation Training Course.

    “I knew I had finally found my niche in life the day I started teaching,” Leija said.

  • Philanthropic Organizations Pledging More than $100 Million to Veteran and Military Communities

    First Lady Michelle Obama, with Dr. Jill Biden and introducer Chrissandra Jackson, delivers remarks during a Joining Forces event at the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2014.

    First Lady Michelle Obama, with Dr. Jill Biden and introducer Chrissandra Jackson, delivers remarks during a Joining Forces event at the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2014. As part of the third anniversary of Joining Forces, they announced commitments and a pledge made by philanthropies nationwide to support veterans and military families. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Today, as part of the third anniversary of Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Biden announced that the Council on Foundations will lead the philanthropic community in establishing the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, which will be an enduring forum for donors to communicate and share best practices about supporting the veteran and military communities.

    "We’ve got to show our veterans and military families that our country is there for them not just while they’re in uniform, but for the long haul," said the First Lady.

    The First Lady announced that the philanthropic community is pledging more than $100 million over the next five years to support veterans and military families. These commitments will fund organizations that support service members, veterans, survivors, and their families. The First Lady also called upon more donors to join this effort in order to fully support all those nonprofits and community groups that do such wonderful work for the military and veteran communities every day.

  • Boston Red Sox Home Base Program Teams Up with Joining Forces

    Last week, the Boston Red Sox announced a special PSA that the team's Home Base Program is supporting the mission of the Joining Forces Initiative to support service members, veterans, and their families.

    Joining Forces would like to thank the Home Base Program for all of their innovative work to support our veterans and military families, especially those dealing with deployment-related mental health challenges.

    In just a few short years, the Home Base Program has answered the call to serve veterans and military families, and has provided care for hundreds of veterans and military family members. They've trained thousands of health care providers to recognize the unseen wounds of war. They've shown teachers, school nurses, employers, and community leaders how they can help support military families. And they've invested in groundbreaking research to help us continue to improve treatment in the years ahead.

    Rory Brosius is the Deputy Director of Joining Forces.

  • Serving with My Parents: The Life of a Military Child

    Growing up is tough enough. But for the 1.2 million military children of active-duty members worldwide, it can be especially tough, particularly in school, where normalcy and routine are critical for high academic achievement and positive social growth. Military children are some of the most resilient children in the world. With their parents, they are constantly on the move. Whether it’s in the United States or overseas in foreign lands, they learn after a few moves to quickly adjust to new communities, new friends, and adapt as necessary to their new surroundings.

    National PTA, with its more than 4 million members, believes that supporting the military child takes a schoolwide effort. School staff should be educated on the academic and social-emotional challenges military children face. A positive school environment, built upon caring relationships among all participants — students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and community members — has been shown to impact not only academic performance but also positively influence emotions and behaviors of students.