Saturday, July 30, 2011

Community Challenge for Joining Forces

In an effort to recognize those citizens and organizations with a demonstrated, genuine and deep desire to be of service to military families, the First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have established the Joining Forces Community Challenge.

The Challenge was established with the expectation that recognizing and celebrating those who are dedicated to improving the lives of military families will have the added benefit of encouraging others to do so as well.

The Joining Forces Community Challenge will award several national prizes that recognize citizens, communities, schools, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations and local governments for their efforts in supporting military families. These are non-monetary awards.

Joining Forces is a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.

Citizens and organizations providing programs, services or support designed to ease the burden and alleviate the emotional and mental stress on service members and their families are encouraged to apply for the Joining Force Community Challenge. Nominations will also be accepted.

The Joining Forces Community Challenge will be conducted in two stages. During the first stage, a panel of judges will review applications and nominations and select and announce 20 finalists on November 30, 2011. In the second stage, finalists will be profiled on where the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite – the People’s Choice winner. Public voting and additional judging will take place after finalists are announced and continue to January 2012.

Winners selected by judges and the People’s Choice winner will be announced in January 2012. Winners’ profiles will be featured at Champions of Change, the Administration’s website where extraordinary community efforts in the areas of innovation and education are celebrated.

Prize winners will be recognized at an event in Washington, D.C. in February 2012.

Joining Forces:
  • Brings attention to the unique needs and strength of America’s military families.
  • Inspires, educates, and sparks action from all sectors of our society – citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government - to ensure veterans and military families have the opportunities, resources, and support they have earned.
  • Showcases the skills, experience, and dedication of America’s veterans and military spouses to strengthen our nation’s communities.
  • Creates greater connections between the American public and the military.
In this ongoing effort, they’re highlighting issues that are of special importance to the military families they have met with across the country, including the areas of employment, education, and wellness.

Employment. In many cases, military spouses move from one community to another when their spouses are assigned to new duty stations. These transfers can make it very difficult for spouses to continue with their careers or to find similar jobs in new locations.

Joining Forces:
  • Highlights the workforce potential of veterans and military spouses;
  • Expands employment and career development opportunities for veterans and military spouses; and
  • Helps employers create military family-friendly workplaces.
Education. Military children move frequently due to a parent’s reassignment. These moves can make it difficult to transfer records, secure spaces in courses, stay included in extra-curricular activities, and complete required testing on time.

Joining Forces:
  • Supports the academic achievement of military children by helping schools become more responsive to the unique needs of military children and families; and
  • Promotes and supports higher education institutions and programs that expand education opportunities, eases transferability for military-connected students, and expands job training opportunities for military spouses and veterans.
Wellness. The stress of war, multiple deployments, and frequent moves can affect the wellness of military families. Children and spouses can experience anxiety, changes in relationships with family and friends, isolation or emotional challenges in dealing with deployments, illness or injury, and high mobility.

Joining Forces:
  • Calls attention to the critical issues facing veterans and military families; and
  • Expands access to wellness programs, and resources for military spouses and families.
Joining Forces provides ways for all Americans to step up and show their gratitude to our service members and their families. Through this effort, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden ask Americans to do more for those who have done so much for us. They are highlighting outstanding American citizens, communities, and businesses that are supporting our troops and making commitments to serve our nation’s military families. They are asking Americans to get involved in any way they can.

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