Jill Biden Praises Sacrifices of Military Families
By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 3, 2013 Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, told a gathering of military wives today that the deployment of her son Beau to Iraq in 2008 made her realize the sacrifices military families repeatedly endure, a hardship she said most Americans will never know.
“I will never forget being at the deployment [ceremony] just trying to keep it together,” Biden said in remarks to the 35th Annual Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ Luncheon in Arlington, Va. “My children were there, and I wanted to stay strong.”
It was a hard year for the family, she said, coming just as her husband was about to take office as vice president and amid the cycles of deployments driven by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Her family experienced only one deployment, she said, unlike many of those in the audience, who have repeatedly sacrificed as husbands, sons, wives and daughters have served multiple tours.
“My son’s deployment gave me a window into your lives, but honestly I don’t know how you do it time and time again,” she told the group.
Biden said the experience of her son’s yearlong Iraq deployment also made her realize how much of the nation is unaware of what military families repeatedly go through, something that inspired her to write a children’s book to help others get through it.
“So many Americans don’t know anyone in the military,” she said. “They haven’t been through the challenges of deployment, and they don’t really understand what the military experience is really like.”
To that end, she said her cameo role several years ago on the Lifetime Network’s “Army Wives” program became another opportunity to acquaint Americans with the issues associated with deployments.
“Being part of the show was an incredible platform to share what it’s like to be part of a military family with people who might not have knowledge of what it’s like,” she said.
Of all her experiences over the last four years, Biden said, one of her most vivid memories took place almost two years ago to the day, when U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Recalling how her husband had been gone during much of that weekend, out of communication and not home for dinner, she said, she suspected something was in the works, but didn’t know for sure until the vice president called her late that evening from the White House and told her to turn on the television.
Then, President Barack Obama announced to the nation that bin Laden had been killed.
“I went outside to wait for Joe to come home,” she recalled. “All of a sudden the night came alive, and suddenly I heard the singing of ‘God Bless America’ from the crowd that had gathered outside our home. I will never forget that.”
Dr. Biden, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, champions the White House’s “Joining Forces” initiative, which seeks support for military families and works to connect service members, veterans and military spouses with the resources they need to find jobs at home.