First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, welcomed military members and their families to the annual Mother’s Day tea on May 8, 2015. The event was held at the White House and included service members, their spouses and children, along with wounded warrior caregivers and veterans, as part of the military’s Joining Forces initiative.
This celebration in particular was aimed at service members who are mothers, and mothers who have children in the military. Gold Star Mothers, an organization of mothers whose children died in military service, were also in attendance.
The day coincided with National Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which Obama and Biden pointed out as they spoke to guests in the State Dining Room.
“We couldn’t have picked a better day to show you how much we care and how grateful we are for the service that you provide for our country,” Obama said.
Life is often rough for military families, Obama noted, as they move from state to state every few years. This upheaval means saying goodbye to friends, putting their children in new schools and having to build new lives for themselves over and over.
“You’ve been separated from your loved ones,” Obama said, “whether you’ve been deployed yourself or you’ve had someone overseas.”
Military families are often the first to volunteer to help others in their communities, despite their already active lives, the first lady said. Yet those families are often in need of help as they rebuild their lives with each move or deployment.
Helping military families often takes a community. Some prefer to give clothing donations, which total about 14.3 million tons in the United States alone; others volunteer their time with veterans’ organizations and causes that make life easier for children of military members.
Obama and Biden got together four years ago to redouble the efforts to aid members of the armed forces and their families and started the Joining Forces initiative. Today the Joining Forces initiative has become a support system for veterans and military spouses, and it has also helped 850,000 veterans and spouses find employment since its inception.
Joining Forces has also put an end to veteran homelessness in some areas, including in New Orleans.
The Mother’s Day tea was the perfect time to give back to some of the nation’s military families, according to Obama and Biden. The Bidens have a son, Beau, who is an Iraq War veteran and a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.
“We ask a lot of our military families,” Biden told guests, “and I believe that each of us — no matter where we live, no matter whether we’re connected to military ourselves — all of us should make our best efforts to show our military spouses, kids, siblings and parents how much we appreciate their service and their sacrifice.”