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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Joining Forces One-Year Anniversary: Complimented By Community Challenge

Joining Forces, the military initiative designed to aid and bring awareness to the plight of military families around the country, will turn one year-old in July.   To get the celebration started a bit early, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the duo and driving forces behind Joining Forces, today recognized winners of their Joining Forces Community Challenge.  The 'Challenge' went out to communities across the country admonishing communities to help a military family where ever they could. 

First Lady Michelle Obama and NBC News correspondent Tom Brokaw at today's Joining Forces Community Challenge event at the White House.  Photo/CD Brown
Said Second Lady Jill Biden, "Since we launched Joining Forces a year ago, we have been so inspired by the many ways Americans all across the country are honoring, celebrating and supporting our military families.  Our partners in this effort are businesses, schools, churches, communities and individuals.  The Joining Forces Community Challenge finalists here today are shining examples of what we’ve seen."

U.S. military members and families attend the Joining Forces Community Challenge
recognition today at the White House.  Photo/CD Brown.

The Joining Forces Community Challenge winners are Our Family for Families First Foundation; Armed Forces Service Center; Defending the Blue Line (Bethesda, MD); Give An Hour; Project Sanctuary; and the City of Richfield, Utah.

Since the 20 finalists were announced in February, the public voted to select the “People’s Choice Winner.” The additional five winners were selected with input from a panel of distinguished judges, that included Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent, (on hand today to give the introduction),   J.R. Martinez, Iraq war veteran, motivational speaker and winner of season 13 of Dancing with the Stars; Sloan D. Gibson, President and CEO, United Service Organizations (USO);
Julian Castro – Mayor of San Antonio, one of the nation’s largest military communities; and
Deanie Dempsey, military family advocate and wife of General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Martin Dempsey, Dr. Jill Biden, Tom Brokaw, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Photo/CD Brown

"The challenge winners are leading by example, and showing that all of us can find a way to serve those who sever us", First Lady Michelle Obama said.
Just like the first lady's Let's Move! initiative, her Joining Forces initiative is adding more resources and  gaining more recognition.
The First Lady commissioned businesses to hire returning veterans as they transition from military to civilian lives.  Over the past year, more than 1,600 businesses, to include LinkedIn, Google, and Monster, have hired more than 50,000 veterans and spouses, with even more companies pledging to hire at least 160,000 more in the coming years.
"So, over the past year, not a single person that we’ve talked to, that we have approached, has told us that they could not help. Not a single person", said the First Lady.  "We’ve asked; they said yes."
Also saying 'Yes' are nurses.
Today at the University of Pennsylvania, home to one of America’s top Nursing Schools, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced a commitment from nurses eager to serve veterans and military families. In a broad, coordinated effort, more than 150 state and national nursing organizations and over 500 nursing schools have committed to further educate our nation’s 3 million nurses so they are prepared to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families.
In attendance at today's event were several military members and their families.
US Air Force general, Norton (Norty) Schwartz called the First Lady and Dr. Biden's Joining Forces movement "very important".
For them to get so much support from across the country for military families, "It's very important", adding he'd never seen anything like it.

Tomorrow the First Lady will travel to Shreveport, Louisiana, to announce the 50,000th veteran to be hired through the Joining Forces initiative.  She will visit Kansas City Southern Railway Company, which has aggressively hired veterans because of the unique skill set that they bring to the job.
For more information about the Joining Forces Community Challenge and profiles of the finalists,go to  For more information about Joining Forces and to find opportunities to serve, go to


War.  What Is It Good For?
While First Lady Michelle Obama and the most of the U.S. celebrate the efforts of the U.S. military we learn that Active-Duty Army Whistleblower Lt. Col. Daniel Davis has declared war on the military itself, and the Pentagon, for not telling Americans the truth about what goes on in war areas like Afghanistan.

Says Davis, "Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable."

"What are we doing there [Afghanistan] for so long?"

Davis spent two year-long deployments in Afghanistan. He spoke with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman.

Later this month, Davis will be awarded the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in Washington, D.C.

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