Jill Biden Says Being a Military Family Member 'Shaped Who I Am' as She Expands Initiative

Andrew Harnik / AP / Shutterstock First Lady Dr. Jill Biden speaks at a virtual event with military families from around the world on Wednesday as part of the White House's Initiative in Support of Military and Veteran Families.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden expands her work in the Obama era with military families - something that is close to her heart.
On Wednesday, she virtually met with family members in the US military who were stepping in from around the world as she unveiled the next phase of her Joining Forces initiative
The first lady noted her own military ties: her father was a Navy Signalman in World War II and attended college on the GI Bill, and her son Beau served in the Delaware Army National Guard.
"When Beau served in Iraq for a year, I saw how his children managed his mission," she told reporters who were present.
"I've often wondered how little people can be so strong," she continued. "Without a doubt, being part of this military community shaped me."
Biden spoke from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in front of three giant screens with a grid of more than 100 military family members. She spoke to Ryzun Hazen, a senior at Ramstein High School in Germany. He discussed life as a military child before introducing the first lady.
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Andrew Harnik / AP / Shutterstock
Left to Right: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Former Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden took pictures on February 29, 2012 with her son Beau Biden and his wife Hallie Biden
Thanking him for sharing his experience, she added, "It's this resilience that makes military kids like you so special." She described Hazen as "open and funny and sincere" when she recalled meeting him with President Joe Biden earlier this year.
Dr. Biden also shared about the christening of the USS Gabrielle Giffords in June 2015 when she compared the military to a ship. "And yet so much of its power is invisible beneath the waves: the motors, the anchor, the oars that give it direction and purpose," she said.
"The families of our service members and veterans, the caregivers who lift our wounded, sick and injured, and the survivors mourning those we have lost - they are not allowed to wear uniforms," ​​she continued. "But you serve and you sacrifice for all of us. Military families are just as important to our national defense as an oar is to a ship. And we must always act on that truth."
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She unveiled the next phase of Joining Forces, the initiative she started 10 years ago with then First Lady Michelle Obama.
After reviving the initiative in January when she returned to the White House, Dr. Biden's program efforts continue to focus on employment, education, and health for military and veteran families, carers, and survivors.
"We have a volunteer force - and that's only because generations of Americans see the honor, dignity, and patriotism of this calling," said Dr. Biden. "How can we hope to keep our military strong if we don't give our families, survivors, and caregivers what they need to thrive? If we don't fulfill our sacred obligation?"
She found that the military spouses' unemployment rate prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was around 22 percent, according to the Department of Defense. "Spouses - all of you - deserve the opportunity to do the job you love, whether you keep your job, move from base to base or own your own business," she said.
She continued to advocate quality childcare for working military spouses, adding that there are more than 2 million children whose parents are service members, National Guard, reservists, or veterans.
"Our schools want to support all students, but they don't always know how to do it," said the first lady. "We will work with educators and our government partners to ensure that you, our military-affiliated children, have what you need to be successful."
Andrew Harnik / AP / Shutterstock
Andrew Harnik / AP / Shutterstock
"Only 1 percent of our country has borne the burden of the 20-year war," she stressed the need for health and wellbeing. "Nobody has more strength, strength and resilience than our military families, but you can't do this alone. We need to help you carry that weight - by improving access to mental health resources, making sure everyone is getting food Can lay the table and provide support for caregiving families and our survivors. "
Following her speech, the first lady visited the Military OneSource call center in Arlington, Virginia, a 24/7 military resource center that supports service members, spouses, family members and survivors.
She was briefed by health and wellness consultants after making a phone call.
The first lady has teamed up with the ministries of defense, labor and education to develop joining forces.
"And that's just the beginning," she said on Wednesday. "Our efforts will require the cooperation of our entire government, and we expect every agency to be reinforced and a part of it."
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