What’s next for Joining Forces – a phone call with the Second Lady

Happy Wednesday Ya’ll! Tomorrow is the 4th of July, one of my very favorite holidays. I love being so patriotic, wearing our Old Navy T-shirts and going to the parade. And of course, you can’t forget the fireworks. I hope you all have a blessed day tomorrow.

Joining Forces

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.”  

I don’t think I’ve ever taken what I’ve done that seriously before.  There have been a couple posts that I’ve done that I know have really had an impact on people because they’ve told me.  I really want to take that mantle of responsibility and run with it.  That’s one of the reasons I got involved with volunteering when we moved to this area, and why I try to include a lot of informational posts on my blog.  Make sure to check out my Military Resources page, where I’ve also included the links to my Military Support Series that is still on-going.

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.

This past year there really has been a focus and push on employment, and one I think everyone has seen in the media and in the military spouse circles on social media.  I personally have done some volunteering with Blue Star Families and Hiring Our Heroes on this particular subject (make sure to check out my Support Series post on Blue Star Families).  There has also been some advances made in the area of education, thanks to Joining Forces partners Military Child Education Coalition.  This is where I think bloggers can really come in and play a part.  Being so close to DC I think affords me opportunities to learn about things other military families might not know about.  This month I will have an opportunity to attend MCEC National Conference and I’m really hoping to learn more about what is being done in the area of Education.  I am happy to say that as of right now 46 states have passed Military Interstate Compact Act, which will allow children to not miss a beat when it comes time for that dreaded middle of the school year PCS.  For example, if your child meets the requirements to enter Kindergarten in one state and you move, mid-year, to a state in which they don’t meet the requirements your child can step right into Kindergarten without a problem.  There is a whole website dedicated to MIC3, so please, if you have school-aged children read up on this!  The goal for the rest of the year and beyond is make sure all states have signed this compact.

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? Its Hump Day!

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Military Caregiver’s Week – Elizabeth Dole Foundation

I’m so late on this, and I hate that.  Today was the last day of ‘Military Caregiver’s Week’, bringing special attention to the amazing people that care for our wounded (physical and mental) warriors, that have sacrificed so much for us.  These men and women are absolutely amazing and go about their days just doing what they have to do, living life, and they deserve so much praise for that – enter the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.  


Their Mission: To uplift American military caregivers by strengthening the services afforded to them through innovation, evidence-based research, and collaboration.

Their Philosophy: 

 One of the really neat things they do is their Innovative Grant Program.  They provide grants to non-profit companies that make it easier for those caring for warriors to navigate the available support programs, through technology.  I think is absolutely wonderful.  Having had to navigate a myriad of these online programs in desperate search for help it can be quite challenging, and frankly absolutely frustrating.  Sometimes all your searching gives you is a website list of suggestions.  How does that help in the real-world?  Technology is fabulous, but not if it simply makes things more frustrating.  Having a way to navigate programs and companies through technology, leading to real human help is exactly what we need and is exactly what the 2013 Innovative Grant recipients have done.  This year’s recipients are The National Military Family Association (NMFA), MOAA and the Military Child Education Coalition.   Having met someone from each of these organizations, and worked with them as well, I can tell you that they are extremely deserving of these grants.  They will continue to do all they can do to not only assist Military Caregivers, our Wounded Warriors and all of our Military. 

I don’t know any Military Caregivers in my real life, although I follow the blog of a military caregiver.  The things that she has had to endure, I know nothing of.  I couldn’t possibly imagine what it would be like to be in her shoes.

Do you know a Military Caregiver in your life?  Find the Elizabeth Dole Foundation facebook.  Tell them about the caregiver you know.  Go to the Foundation’s website and see how you can get involved.

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