Future First Lady Jill Biden to Relaunch Military-Focused Joining Forces Initiative

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Dr. Jill Biden meets with spouses of U.S. Coast Guardsmen.
Dr. Jill Biden meets with spouses of U.S. Coast Guardsmen to take questions on the Joining Forces program during a visit to Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla, May 3, 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Elgammal)

Future first lady Jill Biden on Thursday announced the relaunch of Joining Forces, an Obama administration-era initiative she co-founded with Michelle Obama to support military personnel, veterans and their families.

In a video conference call with military family support organizations, Biden said the effort will "get to work on Day One."

"We're going to build on what we learned during the Obama-Biden administration. We'll continue to listen and work with you, making sure that your experiences and expertise are the North Star of this effort," she said to groups including the National Military Family Association, the Modern Military Association of America and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

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Leading the effort will be Rory Brosius, the spouse of a Marine veteran who worked as deputy director of Joining Forces from 2013 to 2017 and served as the Biden Foundation's military families adviser from 2018 to 2019.

"This is my community. And it's one I care deeply for. The world has changed since Joining Forces started in 2011. And I know that we have work to do to make sure that we are as timely and as targeted as we need to be," Brosius said after her introduction by Biden.

The Joining Forces initiative was established to bring together the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and local state and federal programs to support troops, veterans, families and caregivers.

The effort focused initially on improving opportunities for and supporting military spouses as well as military personnel and expanded to address transition issues and veteran employment.

First lady Melania Trump and Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, have been involved with military family support. Pence, whose son Michael is a Marine Corps officer, devoted much of her work to supporting military families, including expanding employment opportunities for spouses and pressing for improvements in state licensure.

Joining Forces will build on the lessons learned from the Obama years, Biden said.

"What we learned gave us real insights into the challenges facing military family members, and then it helped us to shape our agenda," she said.

After the election, Biden, whose late son Beau served in the Delaware Army National Guard, said ensuring that troops are well equipped for their mission and caring for troops and their families is a "sacred obligation."

Military advocacy organizations reacted joyfully to the announcement, with National Military Family Association Executive Director Ashish Vazirani saying he was "thrilled" that Biden selected Brosius for the job. Air Force veteran Jennifer Dane, executive director of the Modern Military Association, told Brosius she was "excited for her."

Biden seemed happiest of all, telling attendees that the last few months have been "an incredible time for Joe and me."

"The weight and the beauty of this responsibility, of the trust the American people have given us, will never leave me, and I'm grateful and excited and most of all ready to get to work with all of you," she said.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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