Vice President and Dr. Biden Mingle with Troops at USO Hawaii Barbecue

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Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, attended their second USO-affiliated event in as many months Saturday when they dropped in on a barbecue in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

USO Hawaii hosted the event where the Bidens mingled with approximately 500 troops and family members. The Bidens addressed the assembled guests and talked about their personal connection to the military through their son Beau Biden, who is a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.

Due to security, guests had to arrive several hours early. However, the USO had plenty of activities for the kids in attendance to pass the time, including face painters, music, a hula school performance and bounce houses.

“The USO is such a great organization,” Dr. Biden told the crowd, according to the Armed Forces Press Service. “I’ve worked with them many times, and they do really wonderful things.”

–Story by USO Story Development

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It’s Never Been Easier to Show Your Support

United Through Reading is just one of many programs that are supported by Americans like you!

We know how much it means to show your support for our Troops and their families.  And we’re happy to announce more ways for you to get involved from anywhere!

We invite you to visit USO.org today to leave a message of support for our recovering Wounded Warriors.

We also invite you to visit Serve.gov‘s “Stories of Service” Blog, where you can read about United Through Reading’s Military Program, a perennial favorite that takes place at USO centers worldwide, every day.  It’s just one of many resources available on that website.

Dr. Jill Biden has just released a PSA in support of that initiative and more, and we hope you’ll share that, too.  Your words, donations, and actions mean so much to our brave men and women in uniform, and all we can say is…Thank You!

Dr. Jill Biden on this Week’s “Army Wives”

(l-r) Catherine Bell, Dr. Jill Biden, Kim Delaney, and Sally Pressman gather on the set of Army Wives during the taping of this week's episode. (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of United States Vice President Joe Biden, will make a special guest appearance on Lifetime’s original series Army Wives this Sunday, August 8, 2010, at 10:00pm ET/PT.

As part of Dr. Biden’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and their families, she will appear as herself in the episode entitled “Mud, Sweat, and Tears.”  Dr. Biden visits Fort Marshall to kick off the post’s annual “Fun Run,” a road race and obstacle course for the local community and post families, in support of a summer camp for children of military families.  While on post, Dr. Biden also visits with military spouses to discuss some of the challenges their families face on a daily basis while their loved ones are deployed.  Many real Army wives will be featured in the episode.

Dr. Biden, who along with First Lady Michelle Obama is helping to forge an enduring national commitment to support military families, also filmed a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging all Americans to take part that will air during the episode of Army Wives and be made available on myLifetime.com.

Watch a preview of the episode below!

4/12/11 UPDATE: Be sure to check out the Joining Forces initiative by the White House in support of military and their families!

Becoming an American in Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq- “Man, if I was born in the U.S. I never would have seen this!” exclaims PFC Andres Martinez after posing with the mural of Saddam Hussein on Camp Slayer in the Victory Base Complex. The story of PFC Martinez and his four fellow soldiers Edelberto Elias, Seguei Maspoch and Andrew Russell of the US ARMY 4th Division, 3rd Brigade 1/8 infantry begins on a dusty flight line on June 30 in Southern Iraq, while waiting on a Blackhawk helicopter where SSG Andrew Russell is sponsoring his three men.  The men are all traveling to Baghdad for a grandiose ceremony in Al Faw Palace on July 4th, the headquarters of the United States Forces-Iraq, where they will be naturalized as United States citizens.

All four soldiers serve on Forward Operating Base GarryOwen which defines the term “middle of nowhere” and this trip to the Victory Base Complex (VBC) was more then just becoming well deserved American citizens in a lavish ceremony with the top brass in the theater.  It was a chance to relax and enjoy the benefits of being on a very large and well appointed base like the VBC. The USO Baghdad met these men on that dusty flight line in Southern Iraq and decided that it was ‘mission critical’ to help these men make the most of their time up here in the capital city of Iraq.

SSG Andrew Russell points out the Ba’ath Party Convention Center to PFC Elias, SPC Maspoch, and PFC Martinez during their trip to Baghdad for a U.S. naturalization ceremony. (USO photo)

Upon arrival in Baghdad on Sather Air Base, the simple task of giving them a ride across the VBC to their temporary housing turned into a 3 hour venture that included a pizza lunch and stops at the major landmarks of the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, like the Victory Over America Palace and the Ba’ath Party Convention Center. Tired from the flight and stuffed on pizza and Monsters, the men were dropped off at their housing and rested for another day of their Baghdad adventure.

Second night in Baghdad, the USO Staff treated the men to a local Turkish restaurant that also shows World Cup soccer projected on the wall. We figured the fellas would appreciate the break from the routine meals served at the dining facility on GerryOwen, as they only just recently got a dining facility on their base.  These guys have been eating ARMY issued MREs for months now, but on that night they were sitting under clear skies eating Chicken Tikka and wondering if they were still in the same country!  The best part of the evening was enjoying some comforts of home and enjoying the drubbing of Mexico by Argentina. Into every life a little rain must fall, though, and it was tough going on the third night when SPC Martinez’ home nation of Chile took a epic beating at the hands of neighboring Brazil in the World Cup.

(l-r) SSG Andrew Russell sponsored PFC Andres Martinez, SPC Seguei Maspoch and PFC Edelberto Elias for citizenship. All enjoyed the amenities of USO Baghdad days before the ceremony. (USO photo)

It was quickly back to business during the week leading up to the ceremony, which occured on Independence Day.  The men had their citizenship interviews to prepare for and make sure their paperwork is all in good order, but when their meetings ended, the USO has some more fun and games planned for them. As it happens, the Sather Air Base USAF Civil Engineering Squadron was planning a farewell cookout at the only pool on the VBC on Saturday afternoon and gladly extended invites to the USO and our visitors. The location of the pool and cookout used to be the getaway for the upper echelon of Saddam’s Ba’ath party and now the area is open to every service member of the coalition forces.

Altogether, Al Faw Palace hosted 156 servicemembers who earned their U.S. citizenship - on Independence Day, no less - through service to the nation. (USO photo)

Big day arrives and Seguei, Edelberto & Andres stand with 173 others and raise their right hand once again for this nation and when the hands come down they now belong to American Citizens. Years in wait and weeks to prepare for this event and it was over rather quick, all 3 of the fellas were happy but they admitted to feeling a lot more emotional then they thought they were going to. Edelberto likened it to getting married in that respect. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden were on hand to be apart of the ceremony that was run by USF-I commander Gen Ray Ordierno.

It was a life defining moment for the 3 soldiers but they also have work to do here and buddies to support on GarryOwen.  All too soon they gathered at Sather Air Base for their flight back to Tallil.  The USO Baghdad says “goodbye and good luck” to our good friends…and fellow U.S. Citizens

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, congratulate a service member on becoming a U.S. citizen on the 4th of July, 2010. (USO photo)

The White House Helps Celebrate the Month of the Military Child

NEW YORK -- A little girl talks to her father, Sgt. Jeff Gerbier, motor transportation operator, 6th Communications Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, as he rides a bus with the rest of the returning Marines to their Brooklyn headquarters. The Marines returned from their Iraq deployment, Nov. 25 just before the Thanksgiving Day holiday. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton)

From the White House Blog:

Supporting military families is a top Obama Administration priority. April is Month of the Military Child and gives the nation the opportunity to recognize the character, strength and sacrifices of America’s military children as well as the role they play in the armed forces community. Today, there are 1.7 million American children and youth under 18-years-old with a parent serving in the military and approximately 900,000 children and youth with one or both parents deployed multiple times. Learn more about the Month of the Military Child here.

Help us celebrate this important month by:

  • Watching this video of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk about the important role military children play in the armed forces community
  • Read the blog post “With You All the Way” from Trevor Romain, whose DVD of the same name will soon be available to help kids cope with deployments and homecomings
  • Check out photos from the Family Care Package stuffing party, hosted by Dr. Biden

Thank you to all of the military families and children whose support of our Troops makes this country so great!

more about “Month of the Military Child | The Whi…“, posted with vodpod

Exclusive Video from the Family Care Package Launch

Enjoy this video of yesterday’s launch of the Family Care Package and take a few moments to read the story behind the story below…

From the Desk of Jeremy Borden, USO Staff Writer:

Nancy Fiscus says that even though her husband has deployed six times, she has never gotten used to his absence.

Her husband, Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul R. Fiscus, is currently on his sixth deployment in Balad, Iraq, as a battalion commander. Nancy was one of the volunteers and military spouses on hand Wednesday at the Army National Guard Armory in Washington, DC, to pack a different kind of USO care package. Instead of going to service members overseas, this one is a “thank you” from the service member to family and loved ones back home.

The pilot program, called the Military Family Care Package program, will allow deployed troops to send their own word of thanks and a few thoughtful gifts, including a journal, to those who matter to them most. “They don’t realize a lot of the things you go through back home,” Fiscus said. “(With the journal) you can at least write it down and get it off your mind.”

Volunteers, including Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and Cheryl McKinley, wife of Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, explained how the program will help in those first weeks after a service member is deployed. They also helped pack 3,000 care packages that will be received by Florida National Guard members who are deploying Thursday, as well as several Air National Guardsmen from various locations, will all receive the packages in mid-March. After they’re received, USO officials will conduct a survey and look to assess the program before deciding where and how it could be expanded.

Inside a donated FedEx box, loved ones will find a journal to record events and memories they can share once the service member gets home, a gift card to the digital photo service, RocketLife, phone cards, Hallmark greeting cards, Verizon phone cards, a gift certificate to Tutor.com as well as other useful items such as local USO information, particularly for the Centers in Pensacola and Jacksonville.

“Today is not about the USO. Today is about our military families,” said Sloan Gibson, the USO’s president and CEO. “It’s really a message to all of our military families, and it’s a reminder to all Americans of the profound sacrifice our families are going through. We want to be there for these families until all of their loved ones come home.”

Alex Baird, the National Guard’s chief of family programs, said the strain of multiple deployments have exacerbated many of the challenges military families face. “All of a sudden, (they’re) gone,” Baird said of the long weeks that lead up to deployment. “Then in the mail comes this package from FedEx, and I’d call it a Hallmark moment when, ‘Oh my gosh, here’s this package from my spouse who was thinking of me on the way out the door.’ That’s why we think programs like this are so essential.”

Dr. Jill Biden greets a DC National Guard member who was a student at the high school where she once taught, Feb 24, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Biden, whose son, Beau, recently returned from a deployment in Iraq, said her work with military families has reinforced how committed they are. She and others are working to address the many challenges military families face.

“They’ll spend the next year trying to create normalcy … and I certainly know how that feels,” Biden said. “The items in these packages will make life just a little bit easier for them.”

Army National Guard Master Sergeant Shannon Goodwin knows both the sacrifices of being deployed and having a loved one deploy. She and her husband were both deployed in the first phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Even though they’re not out on the battlefield (families are) still serving, they’re still making sacrifices,” Goodwin said. “Being a spouse myself, I think if I received a package like this, it would make all the difference in the world to me.”