Last week, Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky to meet with the Fort Campbell High School Football Team, whose notable success in recent years has come despite the many challenges they face. While the high school is public and receives government funding just like many others, its students all have one thing in common; parents who serve at Fort Campbell. Fort Campbell is home to the famous 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), as well as two prestigious Special Operations Command units, the 5th Special Forces Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. So in addition to coping with the day to day stresses of high school and the demands of elite athletics, many of the players also have to deal with the reality of having a parent in one of the Army’s most deployed contingency forces.
Despite this, both the players and their parents see football as an escape from the pressures they face, as well as a force that helps bridge the physical gap between students and their parents. Parents who are deployed find that listening to a game is a bittersweet experience; while it makes them miss their families, they’re able to escape their surroundings and feel a sense of pride. Coaches, team parents, and players are members of an indispensable extended family that provides empathy and support, especially during times of loss. And the students and players are all strengthened by viewing the demands of football as a mirror for the discipline and sacrifices that their parents commit to every day, fostering unity and stressing the importance of working towards a common goal.
In addition to visiting with the team, the Vice President made a surprise appearance at the arrival ceremony for 155 members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team who had been on deployment to the Khowst Province of Afghanistan for the past year. He met with the families and then personally greeted each soldier, many of whom were completing their third, fourth, and in some cases fifth, deployment to the region. Vice President Biden’s visit comes at a time when the Administration is raising awareness about the unique sacrifices that members of our armed forces and their families make, and providing them with resources to help them face their daily challenges.
The President, First Lady, Vice President, and Dr. Biden encourage all Americans to stay informed about the concerns of military families in their communities and across the nation, and to support them as they continue to make extraordinary sacrifices for our Nation.
Darienne Page is the Director of Veterans Outreach in the White House Office of Public Engagement