Is the White House Joining Forces campaign doing anything?
Published: April 20, 2011
WASHINGTON – I was speaking to a handful of veterans yesterday who questioned what the new White House Joining Forces campaign can actually accomplish, considering the effort doesn’t do anything to lessen the real cause of stress among military families: Long deployments overseas and a decade of continuous fighting.
When I pointed out that the initiative had already influenced some action from corporate partners, they responded with blank stares. While most of the celebrity aspects of the campaign were touted in the last few days (Sesame Street! Mythbusters! Nick Jonas!), there’s less information out there about the training and employment programs that first lady Michelle Obama promised would be the centerpiece of the effort.
So, without defending or attacking the initiative, here’s a look some of the behind-the-scenes promises corporate sponsors have made so far:
- Siemens: Pledged to hire at least 300 veterans for current positions in the company.
- Goodwill: Pledged to hire at least 1,300 veterans or military family members for current positions in the company.
- Sears: Plans a virtual career fair for troops and their families to highlight job opportunities.
- Walmart: New program guarantees a job for all employees who are transferred to a different part of the country because of a spouse’s military orders.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Will conduct 100 local hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses.
- Best Buy: Will host technology seminars at 17 bases to explain ways to communicate with loved ones overseas.
- Better Business Bureau: Plans to develop new financial literacy programs aimed at military families.
- YMCA: Will offer 7,000 military children in 35 states free summer camps this year.
Officials from the National Military Family Association praised the initiative when it was announced last week, but also noted that supporters need to be realistic about what the program can achieve. The campaign is designed to raise awareness and encourage support from the civilian sector, but it can’t really address larger issues of military and national security policy, even though changes there would have the most impact on families.
To visit the official Joining Forces site, click here.