I had the opportunity to attend the “Joining Forces” campaign spearheaded by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden at Camp Lejeune. Joining Forces is a new national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society (from neighbors to schools and businesses) to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.
I was a little leery going into it that this was basically a dog and pony show to get military family support for the Obama camp, but didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to see the First Lady. As we
crowded into a gym full of Marines and other family members and patiently waited more than 2.5 hours for the event to start, I contemplated if I was actually going to get more out of this than a few pictures of Michelle Obama.
Having a son in the service, Dr. Jill Biden was immediately able to make a connection with the crowd, understanding first hand how difficult it is when a loved one is deployed.
But Michelle Obama really surprised me. Having never experienced the emotional rollercoaster of deployment, she was able to relate to the crowd and sincerely articulate why this campaign is so important. Her passion for the campaign and for us present was truly evident.
In fact, there are already programs in motion that provided credibility for the campaign:
• The Chamber of Commerce will hold hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses in 100 communities over the next year.
• Indeed.com is launching Indeed Military, an online service to help military families find work.
• Best Buy’s Geek Squad will host seminars at 17 military installations on staying connected with deployed family members through technology.
• Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club will guarantee a job at a new location for existing employees who must move because a military spouse is transferred.
• The YMCA and other partners will provide free summer camp for thousands of military children and families in 35 states this summer.
• Educational groups will bring to high schools with a high percentage of military families more Advanced Placement classes and courses in science, technology, engineering and math.
Having been through 6 deployments myself, it became clear that this wasn’t just some smoke and mirrors campaign, but something tangible that hopefully military family members from around the country will experience some positive difference.
And what I loved best about it (as with any good marketing campaign), was there was a clear call to action. Support our military members and support their families. From a simple thank you to a military member or their family to organizing local appreciation events to getting businesses involved, everyone can do something.
You can learn more about the campaign at JoiningForces.gov.