The First Lady said the nation has stepped up in many “amazing” ways to support military families and veterans according to the American Forces Press Service:
Over the past year, Americans have hired more veterans, causing veteran unemployment to decrease at “some pretty significant rates,” Obama said to resounding applause.
The nation also is opening doors to flexible employment for military spouses, the first lady said, noting employment is a “key issue” for military families, who move 10 times more often than the average American.
Part of the anniversary celebration at the White House included recognizing community efforts to support troops, their families and veterans. The top organizations that won the Joining Forces Community Challenge are according to American Forces Press Service:
— Armed Forces Service Center, St. Paul, Minn. The service center is a 24/7 “all free” lounge staffed by volunteers at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport for active-duty military personnel, their families, activated reservists and National Guardsmen and other members of the uniformed services.
— Defending the Blue Line, Hastings, Minn. This organization works to ensure that children of military members have access to participate in hockey through free equipment, hockey camps, special events and financial assistance toward association and other hockey-related costs.
— Give an Hour, Bethesda, Md. Founded by Washington, D.C.-based psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen, this organization is dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of military personnel, their families, and the communities affected by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to counseling, providers also consult to schools, first responders, employers, and community organizations. Give an Hour has provided nearly 50,000 hours of free service, valued at roughly $5 million.
– Project Sanctuary, Parker, Colo. This organization brings military families together in the Rocky Mountains after deployments to help them reconnect through recreational activities and therapy. Follow-up support beyond the retreat is also provided, and includes support to families with housing, job placement and veterans’ assistance.
— City of Richfield, Utah. The city has supported its local Army National Guard unit through four deployments since Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, Richfield provides several programs and services for military families, including a city utility abatement program and distribution of the city’s newspaper to deployed soldiers so they can stay in touch with the community.
— Our Family for Families First Foundation, East Greenwich, R.I. This foundation, chosen by the public as the Challenge’s “People’s Choice Winner,” supports military families pursuing higher education by supporting military children through scholarships and military spouses through grants and assistance identifying educational opportunities.