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Obama announces new initiative to support military families

By the CNN Wire Staff

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New plan to back military families
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, vice president's wife, will lead "Joining Forces"
  • Major employers say they'll train, hire family members

Washington (CNN) -- Supporting military families with jobs, education and other services is a matter of national security, President Barack Obama said Tuesday in helping his wife Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill announce a new initiative supporting relatives of American service members.

"Joining Forces" will encourage businesses to provide jobs for military spouses, schools to find ways to provide additional support to children of service members and also encourage everyday Americans to find ways to personally get involved.

"It's not just the right thing to do, it also makes this country stronger," Obama said, noting that soldiers often say the one thing he can do for them is ensure their families are cared for so they can focus on their jobs.

The initiative has secured pledges from major employers such as Walmart, Sears, Siemens and Cisco to hire and train employees from military families. The companies say they will also make sure spouses who already work for them have a job waiting when their military spouse is transferred to a new duty station.

The effort has also secured promises for educational support for military children as well as expanded access to wellness programs.

The group also will launch a public awareness campaign to educate Americans about military families and their needs. A new website, www.joiningforces.gov, will provide volunteering opportunities to serve military families.

"Working together, we're going to make sure our military families are never forgotten," Michelle Obama said.

The nonpartisan nonprofit Center for a New American Security will coordinate commitments under the initiative and help guide the effort with the help of a board that will includes retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Patty Shinseki, the wife of Eric Shinseki, a former Army general and current secretary of veterans affairs.