President Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden launched a far-reaching campaign Tuesday calling on businesses, individuals, civic and religious groups, and communities to recognize the sacrifices made by service members and their families and to find ways to support them in their day-to-day lives.
The Joining Forces initiative, which will be spearheaded by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden, will focus on employment, education, and wellness, while engaging in a comprehensive effort to raise awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of military families. “This is a challenge to every segment of American society not to simply say thank you but to mobilize, take action and make a real commitment to supporting our military families,” Mrs. Obama said.
Representing ADC at the White House event was board president John Armbrust. “The First Lady’s speech acknowledged the important role communities have in supporting our military families and the administration’s strong desire to work with states and local governments to encourage new collaborations,” he said.
In the coming weeks, ADC will be detailing its own efforts to raise the visibility of military family issues in its members’ communities and states, and expand the vision of what it means to be a defense community or state.
“This opportunity for collaboration on Joining Forces comes at an important time for ADC and the launch of our efforts related to military families. We are thrilled to be a part of the Joining Forces kickoff and look forward to playing an active role,” Armbrust said. Later in the day, Armbrust met with Robert Gordon, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, at his office in the Pentagon.
A Broad Array of Commitments
As an initial step to getting Joining Forces under way, the White House convened and worked with leading employers, nonprofits and media companies to kick off the initiative with commitments to address military families’ unique needs in employment, education, wellness and public awareness.
For instance, Cisco is partnering with Futures Inc. to expand the U.S. Military Pipeline initiative — a web-based program for connecting veterans, transitioning personnel and spouses with education resources and employment opportunities — beyond Fort Bragg to Fort Hood, and later to other installations. For more examples of efforts led by non-governmental organizations, visit the White House website.
Starting Wednesday, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will begin a national, two-day tour to visit businesses, nonprofits and communities working to support military families.
Joining Forces will be coordinated through the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C., think tank. Its three-member advisory board will be led by retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan until last year, reported the Miami Herald.
The initiative also builds upon the president’s presidential study directive to establish a comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. Released in January, Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment aims to improve the quality of life of military families, veterans, and survivors of the fallen.