Joining Forces Blog

  • 2014 Warrior Care Month: A Navy Wounded Warrior’s Perspective

    Growing up with three brothers, life has always been competitive. So in 2007, 10 days after graduating high school, it was only natural for me to follow in my older brothers’ footsteps and join the Navy to serve as a corpsman. In 2011, I deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

    On March 26, while running to render care to a Marine who had been injured by an improvised explosive device (IED), I also stepped on an IED, which severely injured my left leg. I was sent to Balboa Hospital with the expectation that I would have my left leg amputated.

    There, I met Lt. Valdez, my Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor representative, who advised me to delay my amputation to see what a non-medicated life would be like with an injured leg. Lt. Valdez’s advice was some of the best I have received in my life. By taking time to weigh my options, I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to amputate.

    Lt. Valdez also connected me to adaptive sports, which led to some great experiences competing on behalf of Team Navy – from London to Colorado Springs. It has helped me find the same camaraderie I have known since childhood.

    At the starting blocks at track and field races, the wounded warriors good-naturedly tease one another. “Break a leg!” they say, when, of course, we are all missing one. But even though we’ve been hurt, we won’t let that stop us.

  • 2014 Warrior Care Month

    Caring for our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members; their families; and their military caregivers will never lose importance, and remains a national priority – particularly during the month of November.

    Warrior Care Month, established in 2008, is an annual observance that recognizes the strength – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – and resilience of our wounded, ill, and injured service members. They demonstrate this strength and resilience every day, and more than 300 wounded, ill, and injured service members were able to showcase the results of their will to overcome during this year’s Invictus Games in London and Warrior Games in Colorado Springs.

  • Dr. Jill Biden on Joining Forces: 'America Has Stepped Up' for Veterans

    Dr. Jill Biden sat down with Lylah Alphonse of U.S. News & World Report to talk about our Joining Forces initiative and what businesses and communities can do to support those who have courageously served our nation. This interview originally appeared in U.S. News & World Report. You can find the original post here

    Though the unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to fall, the country is still coping with a skills gap, especially in certain science- and technology-intensive fields like IT and health care. Veterans could fill the gap -- if only employers were more aware of the skills these men and women gained while in military service.

    "Not every hiring manager is going to know that a chief petty officer has been responsible for the lives of dozens of their peers," First Lady Michelle Obama said during the Women Veterans Career Development Forum in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday. "Not every HR director understands that a gunner’s mate is probably trained to do some of the most complex, high-tech analysis that you'll find anywhere."

    To help bridge that gap, and to encourage citizens to support veterans and military families, the First Lady and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces in 2011.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Women Veterans

    This morning, First Lady Michelle Obama joined more than two hundred active-duty, retired-military, veteran, and reservist women at the Women Veterans Career Development Forum. Today’s career forum, focused on transitioning to civilian life, follows a White House roundtable discussion led by the First Lady which was featured in the November 2014 Redbook issue’s cover story.

    The day-long career-readiness forum, held at Arlington National Cemetery, included discussion with private and public-sector employers; hands-on workshops covering topics from financial literacy to resume writing; insights on entrepreneurship from Bobbi Brown, founder and CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; and a career fashion workshop sponsored by Ann Taylor.

    In her keynote address, the First Lady started by thanking the attendees for their service:

    But most of all, I want to thank all of you, the service members and veterans who have stood up every time this country has called. And before I go any further, I want to say two words that I don’t think we can say enough, and that is, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your unending commitment to our country.

    But I’m here today because I know that simply saying thank you isn’t always enough. We’re here because of women…with distinguished records of service who still struggle to find jobs after they leave the military.

  • VetCap Surges During National Veterans Small Business Week

    November 3-7 is the first annual National Veterans Small Business Week. During this important week designed to support our veteran entrepreneurs, Joining Forces is excited to recognize the continued national growth of VetCap, a series of workshops to train veteran entrepreneurs on where and how to raise capital for their businesses. VetCap (capital for veterans) originated from a White House Veterans Entrepreneurship Workshop, co-sponsored by Joining Forces and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, with support from the National Economic Council.

    During National Veterans Small Business Week, the Obama Administration is connecting veterans from all over the country with workshops, resources, and training programs to establish and grow their businesses. Small businesses are essential to our nation’s economy and Veteran entrepreneurs are responsible for nearly one of every 10 small businesses; they generate over $1.2 trillion in receipts each year and employ nearly 6 million workers in the process.

    The White House Veterans Entrepreneurship Workshop, held in February, brought together private sector leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and veterans services to collaborate on new programs to help veterans launch and grow their businesses. The VetCap concept was proposed by Craig Hanson, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley working on veteran employment programs, and a team was subsequently formed to launch the idea into a national program. “Veterans represent some of our nation’s brightest and most dedicated entrepreneurs,” Hanson said. “A big hurdle for them, however, can be determining where and how to raise the capital they need to grow their businesses. VetCap is an innovative initiative inspired by a White House call to help veteran entrepreneurs.”

    The DC launch of VetCap takes place November 6, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, as part of National Veterans Small Business Week. It will include a panel of experts from the major financing categories to teach veterans where to raise capital and how to make a pitch for financing. The event also features speakers from the White House National Economic Council and the U.S. Small Business Administration, to outline the government’s many programs to help veteran entrepreneurs. I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak at the event and meet with veteran entrepreneurs in attendance.

    VetCap is an independent, private sector initiative, and Joining Forces is proud to have inspired these private sector innovators and entrepreneurs to aid in its mission to help military veterans create and grow their businesses. Doing so isn’t just good for their bottom line—it’s good for the entire country.  

  • Join Us for Joining Forces Wellness Week

    In August, President Obama announced 19 new executive actions to serve the military community, which included a Joining Forces Wellness Week from November 10-14. During the week, we’ll be joining medical, behavioral health, and academic organizations to provide free virtual training to providers and students across the country.

    Each day during Wellness Week, we’ll be hosting a webinar from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. ET:

    • Nov. 10 — Military Culture Counts: Assisting Service Members and Veterans
    • Nov. 11 — Taking a Military Health History: Four Critical Questions
    • Nov. 12 — Helping Military Service Members, Veterans, and Those Who Support Them in Transition
    • Nov. 13 — Parents of Service Members: An Underserved Population
    • Nov. 14 — Telehealth: Serving the Needs of Our Military Families Through Technology

    To join one or all of these webinars, register here, and you can also check back for the archived versions of all five events.

    The Center for Deployment Psychology will host the webinars through their training platform, and content will be provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Academy of Nursing, American Psychiatric Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Nurses Foundation, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and Give an Hour. 

    From the very beginning of Joining Forces, the health care, behavioral health, and academic communities have answered the call to provide quality support for veterans, service members, and their families. Next week will give providers and students an opportunity to learn about topics such as military culture, taking a military health history, stress-related injuries, the unique needs of parents of service members, and tele-health. We applaud the efforts of these organizations to expand the knowledge of providers and students who interact with veterans, service members, and their families.