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Joining Forces with the Illinois National Guard

Dr. Jill Biden recounts her experiences from visiting Illinois National Guard families and encourages the cable industry to help support military families and veterans.

Last week, I visited with Illinois National Guard families and encouraged members of the cable industry to Join Forces with the First Lady and me in supporting military families and veterans across the country.
On Wednesday evening, I joined National Guard families for dinner at a Chicago pizzeria. As the mother of a Delaware Army National Guardsman, I always feel like I am with family when I’m with members of the Guard and their loved ones. All the dinner guests were family members of deployed Guardsmen, or soldiers who have deployed multiple times. After dinner, we went to a Chicago Cubs game together.  I am always inspired when I visit with military families, and last week was no exception. Their pride in their service is contagious, and their courage is awe-inspiring.

The Second Lady with National Guard Families at a Chicago Pizza Dinner

(Photo by Spc. Chasity Johnson, Illinois National Guard, Public Affairs Office)

The next morning, I addressed industry leaders and representatives from the cable and telecommunications industries at the 2011 Cable Show.  The cable industry is uniquely positioned to support military families.  Some members of the industry are telling the stories of military families through PSAs and television programming.  Others are extending access to technology so military families can communicate with loved ones during deployments, or helping teachers of military children share content to boost student achievement.  So many businesses and organizations are stepping up.

After the Cable Show, I joined a group of community groups that partner with the Illinois National Guard to support soldiers and airmen and their families. The group included Illinois faith leaders, educators, graduate students and others. I was moved to learn the many ways these community leaders are working together to support military families. They are training teachers to better serve military-connected students, helping children and families reconnect after deployment, and providing counseling and services in houses of worship. Chicago and other Illinois communities exemplify what Joining Forces is all about—all sectors using their skills to make the lives of military families brighter. And there is no question this is more important now that ever, especially for National Guard and Reserve families, who are geographically dispersed and often isolated from military bases and communities. One teenager described her feelings of isolation and depression when her father was deployed. She and her brother were the only military children in her school, so when her father was deployed to Afghanistan, she felt alone. We were all moved by her story. Its children like this that prompted a group of teachers colleges to commit to training future educators about the needs of military children as part of Joining Forces.

I look forward to future visits with these amazing families, and to sharing their stories with communities across America. Whether you are a broadcaster, teacher, faith leader, or graduate student, we can all support military families. Let us know how you’re joining forces with us on facebook, and find ideas to get involved by visiting our website.   

The Second Lady at a Community Event in Chicago

(Photo by Spc. Chasity Johnson, Illinois National Guard, Public Affairs Office)

Dr. Jill Biden is the Second Lady of the United States.