Vice President’s Wife Urges Support for Military Families
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2014 Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined former president George W. Bush today at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas to discuss ways to support transitioning service members and their families.
Biden said one of the best parts of her role as second lady is getting to spend time with veterans and military families.
“As I travel across the country and the world, I am always inspired by the strength and the resilience of our military families,” she said.
Though the military makes up just 1 percent of the U.S. population, Biden said, she wants to make sure the remaining 99 percent supports them in every way they can.
“Our military families have done so much for our country, and each of us can do something in return,” she said.
This is why, in 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Biden teamed up to start Joining Forces, a national initiative to encourage all sectors of society to support service members, families and veterans, Biden said.
Since its founding, Joining Forces has helped to create jobs by partnering with businesses and industries. The corporations range from McDonald’s -- which has hired more than 50,000 veterans in less than three years -- to CitiBank to AT&T. And last week, the first lady announced that more than 100 companies in the construction industry have agreed to hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years.
“Companies big and small are stepping up, not just because it’s the patriotic thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do,” she said. “They know that our service men and women are some of the highest-skilled, hardest-working employees they will ever have.”
In addition to hiring initiatives, Joining Forces has helped educators double down on their efforts to help military families, she said.
“There are military children in every school district in our country, and often teachers, counselors and other students really have no idea that these children have a parent who is serving in the military,” Biden noted.
Answering the call to raise awareness of the issues facing military children, the Military Children Education Coalition and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education launched Operation Educate the Educators.
The program prepares student teachers at more than 100 colleges of education to better understand and meet the needs of military-connected children.
“Sometimes it’s the littlest things that matter most [to military families. … That’s what Joining Forces is all about -- commitments that might reach thousands of veterans, to single acts of kindness to make all the difference,” Biden said.
“There is no greater priority that we as a country have than to fill what my husband, Joe, calls our nation’s most sacred obligation -- serving our returning troops and their families as well as they have served us,” she added.
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @rouloafps)