In light of being so patriotic I wanted to share with you an amazing opportunity I had thanks to Circle of Moms. I was able to have a conversation with Dr. Jill Biden, Col. Archie Bates (White House Fellow in the First Lady's Office), and the new Executive Director of Joining Forces, Colonel Richard Morales. It was an exciting opportunity that was focused on us MilSpouse Bloggers. I felt a new sense of direction and empowerment after the phone call. We really need to be the voice that gets that information out there. Something Dr. Biden said to us really stuck with me.
"You take a challenging situation and rise to the occasion. You lean on each other and help each other out. You, as bloggers, have expanded what it means to be a military community. You create a valuable resource."
Signing Hiring Our Heroes Legislation
So if you're not familiar with Joining Forces (check out the White House page for it) there are three sections of Military life that it focuses on: Employment, Education and Wellness
- Highlights the workforce potential of veterans and military spouses;
- Expands employment and career development opportunities for veterans and military spouses; and
- Helps employers create military family-friendly workplaces
- Supports the academic achievement of military children by helping schools become more responsive to the unique needs of military children and families; and
- Promotes and supports higher education institutions and programs that expand education opportunities, eases transferability for military-connected students, and expands job training opportunities for military spouses and veterans.
- Calls attention to the critical issues facing veterans and military families; and
- Expands access to wellness programs, and resources for military spouses and families.
Mr. Air Force and I at a Joining Forces/Educate the Educators Event
A large focus for Joining Forces for the remainder of the year is going to be Mental Health. This is a growing concern, and frankly should have been at the forefront a lot sooner then it has. Although Mr. Air Force and I are in agreement that true change probably will not be achieved for another generation of soldiers. We didn't get to where we are overnight, so it will take more than that to change. As this generation of soldiers, airmen and marines gets older we hope that they will set the new standard and help to alter the military culture to one of support and assistance and not one of shame. In our conversation this week Dr. Biden said that they were getting ready for a briefing and update focusing on mental health and the direction they were going to take. We were also made aware of mental health summits that will be occurring between July and September at each of the 152 VA medical facilities. The information garnered through these summits will help Joining Forces formulate a plan to determine further direction for their program.
All in all I was quite pleased with the time we spent during our phone-call. It felt real and honest, and in the face of pressing questions they didn't avoid them, or do the whole answering without really answering thing. I look forward to the rest of this year and seeing how this pans out.
What steps would you like Joining Forces to take in each of the three categories?