Dr. Biden Urges Industry to Support Military Families
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011 Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, last night called on the cable television industry to use its vast reach to help educate the public about military families and rally national support for “the very best of our country.”
Biden, speaking at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's annual convention in Chicago, echoed the message first lady Michelle Obama took to Hollywood earlier this week.
“The cable industry is uniquely positioned to help Americans learn more about the challenges and needs of military families and to showcase the families’ strength, resilience and service to our nation,” Biden told the assembly.
A Blue Star mother herself, Biden said she experienced firsthand what military families endure when her son, Army Capt. Beau Biden, deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the Delaware National Guard.
“I can honestly say that not a day passed during his deployment that I didn’t worry about his safety,” she said. “That year gave me a small insight into what some of our military families have experienced for years, through multiple deployments in two different war zones.”
Families serve right along with their loved ones in uniform, she said, particularly during deployments when they keep the home fires burning and provide critical emotional support.
“They do it with pride and with no complaint,” Biden said. “Without the steadfast support of their families, our military personnel could not do what they do.”
The federal government is committed to supporting the families who stand behind their loved ones in uniform, and it has made 50 specific commitments to improve the lives of military families, Biden said. These range from protecting families from financial scams to improving education for military kids and spouses to stepping up the fight against veterans’ homelessness.
“And the president has said that he will not be satisfied until we meet every last one of these commitments,” she said.
Biden emphasized the nation’s responsibility to support military families -- the focus of the Joining Forces initiative she and the first lady launched earlier this year.
“We want all Americans to understand and appreciate what our troops and their families do for our country every day,” she said. “That’s why we started Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to rally all Americans to recognize, honor and support our military families.”
The program has had “overwhelming response” from groups, individuals and businesses that have joined forces to support military families, she said. Their support runs the gamut, from employment, education and wellness services to babysitting care to free income-tax assistance to top-name hockey equipment donated for military children.
“Companies like Sears and Siemens Corporation, as well as the chamber of commerce, the PTA, the YMCA, the American Heart Association and many others have stepped up with exciting programs to employ and support these families,” Biden said.
Biden said she’s seen personally through her work with the Delaware Boots on the Ground organization “the difference that organizations and companies like this can make.”
Biden recognized the cable TV industry for its support for Joining Forces. “Some of you are telling the stories of military families through [public service announcements] and television programming,” she said. “Others are extending access to technology so military families can communicate with loved ones during separations and deployments.”
Discovery Education, for example, is helping teachers of military children share content to boost student achievement. In addition, its “Help on the Homefront Challenge” encourages classrooms to develop projects supporting military families in their neighborhoods.
Verizon and Comcast have been recognized for their support of their National Guard, reserve and veteran employees, Biden said.
In addition, the first lady made a cameo appearance on Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” show earlier this week, and Biden said she appeared on A&E’s “Army Wives” show last year.
Such collaborative efforts with the TV industry, Biden said, help to educate the public about military families.
“I hope you will continue to educate, entertain and open our eyes to the lives of those around us. Because the truth is, our military families represent the very best of our country,” Biden said. “They are our fellow Americans who get up every day to protect this country. They ask for so little, but they deserve so much.”
Biden encouraged the audience to seek out ways to express their thanks and show their support. “I hope that all of you will join forces with us to serve these extraordinary Americans as well as they have served this country,” she said.
The first lady took a similar message to the entertainment industry earlier this week, encouraging Hollywood producers, writers, actors and directors to incorporate military families’ compelling stories into movies and television.
“You have the vehicle to tell stories that just pull people in,” the first lady said during a panel discussion hosted by the entertainment guilds in Los Angeles. “I … urge you to do what you do best. Be creative. Be funny. Be powerful. Move us, [and] move America to think differently about these issues and about these families, and about our men and women who serve so graciously.”