Joining Forces

6 May

My intention here is not to present a pro- or anti-war opinion, or to ignite a political discourse in either direction.  It is simply in recognition of Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

There have been relatively few periods in my life in which the news hasn’t reported on US war efforts or military involvement overseas.  Less than two years after I was born, US forces were dispatched to the island of Grenada where a violent power struggle was in play.  This was followed by the landing of US troops in Beirut when the country’s long-running civil war was reignited.  The US invaded Panama in the late 80s to oust the nation’s dictator and install a new government.  In 1990 the US led a 34 country coalition in the Persian Gulf following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  The US was next involved in the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia followed by the 1994 intervention to remove the military regime that had overthrown the elected President in Haiti.  In the late 90s was the Kosovo War in which NATO countries, including the US, bombed Yugoslavia following years of operation within Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Months after my 20th birthday, the War on  Terrorism started in response to the 9/11 attacks on American soil.  Shortly thereafter the US invaded Afghanistan where the US intended to, among other things, remove the Taliban government and eradicate training camps for al-Qaida.  One year later, the US sent troops to the Philipines to assist with their efforts against terrorism.  The US then invaded Iraq for the second time in my lifetime, demanding that then-President Saddam Hussein leave the country.  While fighting in the Middle East continued, the US became involved in Haiti’s 2004 rebellion and coup d’etat.  Earlier this year, the US joined a coalition force against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  A decade later, just months after my 30th birthday, the US organized an attack which killed Osama bin Laden, marking what is being called a huge achievement in the War on Terrorism but by no means ending that war.

The 1% of Americans fighting these wars are not always necessarily at the forefront of war coverage at home.  And in that interest, we rarely hear about the military families who live between periods of deployment and leave time.  Across my lifespan of 30 years, this is an incredible number of servicemen and women, and an unimaginable amount of affected military families.  Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were on Dateline last week to discuss a recently launched White House initiative specifically aimed at this population, Joining Forces.  According to the White House website, the goal of this initiative is to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.  Joining Forces calls citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government to provide support across the areas of employment, education and wellness.  In its simplest of efforts, Joining Forces allows site visitors to send a message of support to military families.

Regardless of your political views or opinion on our country’s foreign policy, it is definitely worth learning more about Joining Forces in support of those of who protect our country.  And those who wait for them to come home.

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