In honor of Veterans' Day, Yahoo! Shine went to the White House for an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to talk about Joining Forces, the White House initiative to support military families. Yahoo! and Yahoo! Shine readers submitted nearly 5,000 questions that they wanted us to ask, including how Mrs. Obama would react if her daughters Malia and Sasha said that they wanted to join the armed forces. Here's what she had to say about the idea:
Jill Biden already knows what it's like--she's a Blue Star mom herself. "Our son, Beau, is Delaware Army National Guard. He's been in for 10 years," she told Yahoo! Shine. "He joined in his 30s. And he was deployed to Iraq for a year."
"I felt proud when Beau told me that he was going to join," she said. "He's now a captain, and he's soon to be made a major. We'll go to that ceremony, the entire Biden clan will be there. So we're just very proud."
With the troops from Iraq expected to be home from the holidays, some Yahoo! readers wondered what the Obama Administration is doing to help support military wives and family members who are coping with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that soldiers may be struggling with.
"Well, our husbands, through this administration, have expanded outreach and counseling through Veterans Affairs, first and foremost," Mrs. Obama pointed out. "But we need more awareness. We need more trained professionals available. And that's something that Joining Forces is working on--finding the collaborations of universities out there that are going to improve their curriculums to really gain an expertise in how do you treat and identify post-traumatic stress disorder."
"But we have to realize, as a nation, that this stress doesn't just apply to the men and women in uniform. That similar stress is happening at home. And I think a lot of Americans don't think about that," she added. "So we need local professionals and neighbors and community members and teachers aware. This is why you have to know who are the military families in your communities, be able to identify... those stressors."
Dr. Biden, who still teaches English full-time at a community college in Virginia, says that schools are on the front line in treating PTSD.
"We're taking curriculums into the teachers colleges so that teachers could be aware of the children in their classroom who may have a parent deployed, and what they're going through, and making them aware of it," she explained. "And also I think that the services are doing a much better job of working with the families."
Those who serve in the National Guard live in with their families in civilian neighborhoods, not on military bases, which means that they may not have the same level of support as other soldiers do once they return home, Dr. Biden pointed out. "I think it's the families that help to work within each other and help to recognize some of the problems."
We also asked the First Lady and Dr. Biden about their families' holiday traditions, what they'd do differently as parents, how they maintain their own identities and careers, and what they think people can do to support military families in general on Veterans' Day and every day, only on Yahoo! Shine.
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Also on Shine:
- Veterans Day on Yahoo! Shine