President Obama's government-wide commitment to increase resources and create new support systems for military families, both in public and private sectors, has led to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden's strong support of the Joining Forces program.
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Joining Forces in Support of Military Families

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Military families sacrifice much more than most people know. President Obama, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden started a nationwide effort to give something back.

President Obama's government-wide commitment to increase resources and create new support systems for military families, both in public and private sectors, has led to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden's strong support of the Joining Forces program.

Joining Forces is a national initiative to create greater connections between American citizens and the military. The Joining Forces initiative focuses on three areas: employment, to assist veterans as well as military spouses who move from one community to another because of military transfers; education, by working with schools to support children in military families who transfer due to PCS and expand their education opportunities; and wellness, which seeks to help military families who experience anxiety, isolation or other challenges when dealing with frequent moves. deployments, illness or injury.

PCS SUPPORT FOR MILITARY SPOUSE EMPLOYMENT

In meetings with military families across the country, one common thread of concern is the upheaval and havoc created by military transfers to transfers to new duty stations. PCS puts great pressure on military spouses who need to maintain careers and find jobs in new locations.

To support veterans and military spouses, Joining Forces has committed to working with employers to create military-supportive workplaces, expand job training opportunities, and highlight the workforce potential for military spouses and veterans, in order that military spouses might continue their employment uninterrupted by a change of duty station.

MILITARY CHILDREN NEED BETTER SCHOOL SUPPORT AFTER PCS

Children of military service members also feel the pressures of PCS reassignment, which makes it challenging to complete the school year on time, maintain school attendance, develop strong extra-curricular activities, and complete required academic testing on time. To help military children, Joining Forces supports school programs that expand education opportunities and programs that ease new-school transitions for military family students.

MAINTAINING FAMILY HEALTH THROUGHOUT A MILITARY LIFESTYLE

The stress of war, multiple deployments, and frequent moves can affect the health and well being of military families in a variety of ways. Children and spouses can experience anxiety, isolation, depression, and other emotional challenges. Joining Forces highlights critical family health issues facing veterans and military families, and increases military access to family health care programs for physical and emotional support.

WHAT CAN I DO TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS?

Joining Forces encourages action from citizens, businesses, non-profits, faith based groups, philanthropic organizations, and government groups, working together to ensure that veterans and military families have the opportunities, resources, and support they have earned.

In April 2011, Earl Martin Phalen, chief executive officer of Reach Out and Read, announced the program as an official partner of the Joining Forces initiative.

Reading to children improves family relationships, reduces stress and promotes resiliency. In fact, parents reading daily to their children may be one of the greatest protective factors for families during deployment.

By 2011, 47 U.S. military bases were participating in the Reach Out and Read program, serving 90,000 military children and families. As part of the Joining Forces initiative, the plan is to expand the Reach Out and Read school readiness program to 100 U.S. bases worldwide, serving 200,000 children by 2013.

Addressing the needs of Ohio's military youth has been the focus of Operation: Military Kids since Ohio became part of this national Joining Forces initiative in 2005. The program works with the Ohio National Guard and other branches of the military in a number of ways to support military youth and families. They include:

-- Day camps and seminars, which are geared to help youths in military families build resiliency during their parent's deployment.
-- Speak Out for Military Kids, which is designed to give youths in military families a chance to voice their views on what it's like to grow up in a military family today.
-- Summer camps specifically for youths in military families. In addition, the program offers three new Adventure Camps for teens (ages 14 to 18) from military families, a seven-day wilderness backpacking adventure for 10 youths; a week-long adventure camp at Canter's Cave for up to 70 youths; and a long-weekend special needs camp for up to 30 youths and their caregivers at Canter's Cave.

Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden continue working closely with military families to hear their problems and rally the country to find solutions equal to the sacrifices of a military lifestyle. Joining Forces asks Americans to get involved, and highlights outstanding American citizens, communities, and businesses that support military service members and military families.



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