Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Dr. Jill Biden is printed below. The piece is published today on The Huffington Post, and can be found here.
The year my son Beau was deployed to Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard, my family learned how much simple acts of kindness could lift our spirits. From the notice in the church bulletin to the neighbor who shoveled my daughter-in-law’s driveway during a snow storm, these gestures meant the world to us.
This Memorial Day, I hope you will take a moment to offer your own gesture of thanks to our men and women serving abroad and at home, as well as their families, and reflect on the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Over the past four years, First Lady Michelle Obama and I have had the privilege of meeting with military service members and their families all around the world. We’ve heard their concerns about school and career issues; we’ve shared their joy when service members returned from deployment, and we’ve tried to offer solace when they face difficult times. These stories and experiences – and our desire to say ‘thank you’ – inspired us to start the Joining Forces initiative, a nationwide effort to rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families.
Joining Forces brings together public and private resources to help with the employment, education and wellness of our returning servicemen and women and their families. Through the Veterans Job Bank and Veterans Recruiting Services, we’re connecting unemployed veterans with job openings. We’re working hard to encourage states to make it easier for military spouses – often teachers and nurses – to transfer their certifications across state lines. And we’re proud to have so many private sector partners committed to increasing the number of veterans they hire.
From a big initiative to a small gesture, Memorial Day is the perfect time to offer a simple act of kindness to our veterans and military families. You can send a message of thanks to our troops or a military family. Or pledge hours of service. Or even start your own volunteer project. And afterwards, please share your story – we want to hear about it!