Joining Forces Blog

  • 2014 National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week

    September 21-27 marks National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week – a week that highlights the importance of employers and businesses that support members of the National Guard and Reserve components across all military branches.

    President Obama’s 2014 proclamation to commemorate the week not only commends these employers, but also makes clear that “everyone can do something” to help Guard and Reserve members and their families:

    Our country is grateful to all our Guardsmen and Reservists and the employers who stand behind them and their families.  By providing workplace flexibility and helping the advancement of their civilian careers, employers ease the burden on those who serve and their loved ones.  And we appreciate all our country's businesses that go above and beyond in small and large ways to recognize our patriots.  We know that when it comes to supporting our Nation's heroes, everybody can do something -- every business, every school, and every American.

  • A New Solar Energy Job-Training Pilot Program for Veterans

    Solar energy is shattering records in the United States. Since President Obama took office, installed solar power has increased 13-fold, topping nearly 16 gigawatts today – enough to power the equivalent of 3.2 million average American homes. As solar energy continues to grow, it is becoming a major source of high-paying American jobs – employing nearly 143,000 full-time professionals last year.

    During the next decade, the solar industry is slated to grow even more. The next generation of skilled professionals will be key to the industry’s effort to meet the demand for this clean, renewable energy. That’s why the Energy Department is launching a pilot solar installation training program to provide military veterans who are transitioning out of active duty with the skills needed to become the leaders of the nation’s clean energy economy.

    The solar industry has long taken a leading role in hiring veterans, employing more service members than any other sector in the U.S. Building on this tradition, the SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network – which aims to train 50,000 new solar installers in total by 2020, some of who will be veterans – is partnering with up to three military bases to create a veterans solar job training pilot project this fall.

  • The City of Norfolk Answers the First Lady’s Call to End Veteran Homelessness

    Yesterday, Paul Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia, became the latest city leader to proclaim support for the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Norfolk joins more than 200 cities across the country in announcing its support for the critical activities providing veterans with access to resources that support economic security. Norfolk has long supported its most vulnerable veteran population; between November 2012 and 2013 alone, more than 400 Norfolk veterans received homelessness support services. 

    Yesterday’s proclamation coincided with Norfolk’s Project Homeless Connect, for which more than 300 volunteers turned out to provide area homeless with access to community resources, including medical services, employment support, and donated goods. More than 471 homeless clients received help, more than 30 of which were veterans. Norfolk demonstrates its dedication to improving the plight of the homeless by conducting two Project Homeless Connect events each year, whereas many communities host an annual event.

  • Dr. Jill Biden Cheers on Team USA at the Invictus Games in London

    Leading a Presidential Delegation, Dr. Jill Biden traveled to London this weekend to join athletes representing the United States at the Invictus Games -- an international sporting event for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. "These games really show the spirit of the military and how they persevere and their resilience," Dr. Biden said.

    Watch as Dr. Biden cheers on these amazing athletes:

    Watch on YouTube

    This trip is part of Dr. Biden’s ongoing efforts through the Joining Forces initiative to raise awareness and show appreciation for veterans, service members, and their families.

  • Veteran Entrepreneurs Honored as White House Champions of Change

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Small Business Administration's blog. See the original post here.

    The energy in the room was inspiring as 11 veteran and veteran spouse entrepreneurs took the stage to be honored as Champions of Change on August 27. Invited to the White House to be honored for their extraordinary achievements, these “Champions” are community leaders who empower veterans and give back to the veteran community.

    Throughout the event, there was one constant theme: Veterans are natural leaders. Military training provides veterans with a skillset that translates directly to entrepreneurship. “People might learn leadership in various ways, but there’s no place like the military,” said Champion Louisa Long Jaffe, who attributes the problem-solving skills taught in the military as one of many reasons veterans not only make successful entrepreneurs but also great employees.

    The Champions also spoke of their passion to serve; a passion that has evolved from serving their country in uniform, to serving their communities by creating jobs, providing solutions, and contributing to economic growth.

  • Working Together to Protect Student Veterans

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau blog

    We’re joining the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DoD), and Education (ED) to better protect servicemembers, veterans, and their family members who are attending college. We’ve signed an agreement to carry out a comprehensive strategy to strengthen our enforcement and compliance work.

    This new agreement is part of a larger effort to prevent abusive and deceptive recruiting practices by schools serving servicemembers, veterans, spouses and other family members. This includes working to ensure that these servicemembers and others have the right information to make informed choices with their education benefits and that colleges are providing these students high-quality academic and student support.

    Our agreement requires the agencies to:

    • Have a point of contact for sharing information
    • Share complaints about schools
    • Alert each other of suspected fraud, deception, or misleading practices; and/or
    • Notify each other of any agency action that could lead to a college’s loss of eligibility, a suspension of enrollment, or a termination of license

    Before this agreement, an agency could have been looking into a particular school or even taking away the school’s eligibility for federal funds without the other agencies knowing about it. Now, we have a system for sharing important information and coordinating efforts.

    Recently, we also worked with VA, DoD, and ED to launch an online student complaint system. Here, students can report negative experiences at schools and training programs. The complaints are forwarded to schools and also shared with other law enforcement agencies. The student complaint system has already received over two thousand complaints.

    We look forward to even more successful work together in the future.