Last week Dr. Biden traveled to Greece to lead the Presidential delegation to the Special Olympics World Summer Games. On her first day in Greece, she had the opportunity to join Navy Secretary Mabus for a visit with deployed sailors on board the USS RAMAGE off the coast of Athens.
While on board, Dr. Biden and Secretary Mabus visited with all 300 sailors on the flight deck. Following a reenlistment ceremony for 4 sailors on board who have committed to another tour in the Navy, they met sailors from all over the country – including those from their home states of Delaware and Mississippi. They shook hands and took photos until the very last Sailor departed the flight deck.
After leaving the flight deck, Dr. Biden and the Secretary had lunch with Sailors on the mess deck. They talked with several of them about their families back home, including a sailor who became a new dad just days before the visit. It can be a struggle to miss out on those special family moments while deployed. But the Sailors never complained.
RAMAGE sailors are unique. They have deployed multiple times in the past 5 years, and they have endured long and frequent separations from their families. But they are resilient, and they are proud of what they do. Each and every one of them has the same dedication to our country as those that we have had the honor of visiting at military bases across the country and throughout the world.
Their families are proud of them too. As the mother of a Delaware Army National Guardsman who was deployed in Iraq for a year, Dr. Biden knows well the mixture of pride and concern that military families share while they have a loved one deployed. And she knows that community support can make a huge difference in helping a family cope with deployment. That is why First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden started Joining Forces, a comprehensive nationwide initiative to support military families in their communities. The RAMAGE is based in Norfolk, which has a long tradition of supporting Navy families. That makes a world of difference to these sailors, who cannot focus on their missions abroad if they are worried about their families at home.
How are you joining forces to support military families in your community? You can visit our website to share your story, or to get ideas on how to start your own project.
Kirsten White is Policy Director to Dr. Jill Biden.