DENVER, Colo. (AP) – First Lady Jill Biden thanked the military spouses for their service Thursday on a Colorado military base. Biden spoke at a United Service Organization Spouse Connection event at Fort Carson Military Base near Colorado Springs ahead of Spouse Recognition Day on Friday.
The group is a non-profit organization founded by former President Theodore Roosevelt before World War II that helps members and their families at home and abroad.
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“Thank you for your service. Thank you for everything you have done for our nation. And also for me as a military mother and daughter,” said Biden.
In her speech, Biden revealed the loneliness and anxiety that comes with marrying an overseas service member and praised the spouses’ perseverance and ability to “weather the tough times.”
“We have to do more. Your service in this country deserves nothing less, ”said Biden. “Giving you the support you need to thrive is important to me and the President.”
Krista Cole, 37, whose husband serves as a major in the National Guard, said she and the other military spouses were grateful to be recognized and supported by the first lady.
“It definitely raises morale when the people you look up to, who you may or may not have voted for, are noticed and come to events like this.
Apart from politics, they want to help everyone, ”said Cole. “The spouses really appreciate and appreciate that people are looking for them.”
Biden also pointed to a revitalized White House initiative, Joining Forces, that emphasizes employment opportunities for military spouses, education for the children of parents and veterans, and the health and wellbeing of military families.
The initiative’s revival was announced last month, but the program was first launched in 2011 under President Barack Obama. Joining Forces was led by then First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden when Joe Biden was Vice President. Under former President Donald Trump, the White House website for the initiative was removed and archived.
In her remarks, Biden also recognized several of the wives individually – one who works to adopt two foster children while her husband is in Afghanistan and another who runs a Facebook support group for thousands of military spouses.
“There is a saying, ‘If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it.’ But after getting to know so many of you … I think we should change that saying to “If you want to get something done, ask a military spouse,” she said.
After her speech, the first lady made a round of the tables to speak to dozens of military spouses who came to the event. Several spouses spoke to Biden about their problems finding affordable childcare and building relationships with a mobile lifestyle.
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“The relationships I find and the stories I hear stay with me forever because this community is really different from any other,” Biden said. “It is connected by love, love for our country, love for our service members, and love for our communities that you are all building together.”
US Sens. John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennett, Rep. Doug Lambourn, and Colorados Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera were also present.
There are more than 1.3 million active duty members, 52% of whom are married, according to the US Census Bureau. 642,000 children under the age of 18 live in these households.
Joining Forces aims to create flexible, transferable and remote employment opportunities for military spouses due to the frequent travel life of active duty families. According to the Department of Defense’s 2019 survey of spouses in active duty, the unemployment rate among military spouses was close to 22%.
A White House statement about the initiative said an estimated 2 million children live in families with active service members, reservists or veterans. Joining Forces aims to develop programs to support the education of military children and “alleviate the stresses caused by the highly mobile military lifestyle”.
Joining Forces also deals with the health and wellbeing of military families. This includes improving mental health resources, eliminating food insecurity, and helping the health and economic outcomes of wounded, sick, or injured service members.
The first lady named Rory Brosius the executive director of Joining Force. She was previously the deputy director of the Obama program.
Jill Biden’s father, Donald Jacobs, was a World War II Navy signalman who went to college on the GI Bill. Her late son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46, served in the Delaware Army National Guard, including a year in Iraq.
Biden’s other causes are education and cancer research. She is a longtime English professor at community colleges.
Her performance came the day after Biden attended a school and vaccination clinic in Utah. She started in Las Vegas on Thursday, where she attended elementary school to surprise a teacher named National Teacher of the Year 2021.
By PATTY NIEBERG Associated Press / Report for America
Associate press writer Michelle L. Price of Las Vegas contributed to this report. Nieberg is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a not-for-profit national service program in which journalists report undercover issues to local newsrooms.
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