Joining Forces Initiative: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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The first lady welcomes Gibbs and the wife of a Marine to attend her Joining Forces roundtable on NCIS.

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes NCIS to the White House in tonight’s episode to spotlight her Joining Forces initiative that she and Dr. Jill Biden launched in 2011. Playing herself, Obama will hold a roundtable for military spouses attended by Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and the wife of a Marine.

Joining Forces is a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities, according to its website.

Learn more about the initiative and how shows like NCIS and NBC’s The Voice are helping to spread the word.

1. Joining Forces Is Celebrating its Fifth Anniversary

Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces in April 2011 in the East Room of the White House attended by their husbands, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Their goal was to build an initiative that would continue after their spouses left office.

“Our military families deserve our respect and support at every stage of their lives — no matter who’s in office,” the first lady told USA Today at the time of the launch.

Joining Forces is working to create a stronger connection between the American public and the less than one percent of the population serving in the country’s military. The initiative has made the areas of employment, education and wellness (health) a priority in its support of service members, veterans and their families.

2. The First Lady Holds a Joining Forces Roundtable With Real Military Spouses on ‘NCIS’

NCIS shines a spotlight on the Joining Forces initiative when the team learns a military spouse is struggling to get her law certification in West Virginia. Anne Marshall (Reiko Aylesworth), the wife of a Marine, was practicing law in California, but had to give up her work when her husband was transferred. Gibbs and Bishop (Emily Wickersham) are hoping Joining Forces can help speed up the process to get Anne practicing again.

The CBS drama became the first film production to ever shoot inside the White House. Gibbs and Anne attend a Joining Forces roundtable held by the first lady with military spouses. The show cast actual military spouses as extras for the scene.

NCIS executive producer Gary Glasberg said of the experience:

Filming inside the White House was a dream come true for the ‘NCIS’ cast and crew. It was such a pleasure working with First Lady Michelle Obama and it’s our honor to support the ‘Joining Forces’ initiative and the military families that benefit from it.

Working to reduce or eliminate licensing and credentialing barriers is one of the goals to the Joining Forces employment initiative. Nearly all 50 states have streamlined state licensing service members, veterans and their spouses but not for all professions.

3. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden Celebrated Joining Forces’ Fifth Anniversary on ‘The Voice’

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Obama and Biden stopped by NBC’s The Voice on Monday night and opened the show with a special message. The studio audience was filled with active-duty military personnel and veterans and their families.

The first lady spoke first saying:

Over the past five years through Joining Forces, Jill and I have had the pleasure of traveling across this country and all over the world, meeting troops and veterans and our military families, and we are just in awe of them. In awe of their courage and patriotism” target=”_blank”>Over the past five years through Joining Forces, Jill and I have had the pleasure of traveling across this country and all over the world, meeting troops and veterans and our military families, and we are just in awe of them. In awe of their courage and patriotism.

The vice-president’s wife added:

We wanted to show them how much we appreciate their services with real concrete action through employment, education, and wellness initiatives. Joining Forces gives all Americans the opportunity to show their support for those who serve and sacrifice for our country.

The Voice‘s Top 10 performers then honored its audience with a rendition of Dierks Bentley’s “Home.”

4. All Americans Can Help From Providing Jobs to Babysitting

Major companies, the government and non-profits have pledged their commitment to supporting military families by providing employment and job training, but everyday Americans can help on a daily basis as well. Getting involved can be as simple as offering to buy groceries, babysit their kids or help mow their lawns.

“Every one of us can commit to one small act of kindness,” Dr. Biden said at the Joining Forces launch.

In April 2015, technology and energy companies gave their committment to hire or train 90,000 veterans and military spouses, the first lady announced during a speech at Micron Technologies. These companies are in the growing fields of technology, transportation and energy where there is high demand for talent, according to the White House.

Less than four years after Joining Forces launched, businesses in the private sector had hired or trained more than 850,000 veterans and military spouses. The federal government also had a workforce comprised of 30 percent veterans.

5. Americans Can Send Messages of Thanks to Military Families Through the USO

Joining Forces is working with the USO to provided messages of thanks to service members, veterans and their families. Americans can visit the initiative’s website and fill out the form to send their message, which the USO will deliver.

The initiative also directs its visitors to the volunteer service All For Good, which lists among its volunteer opportunities ways to help military veterans and their families. Americans can also find volunteer opportunities at United We Serve.

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