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NEWS | March 5, 2014

Senior leader spouses gain program awareness, enhance camaraderie

By Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON - Dr. Jill Biden invited the spouses of National Guard senior leaders to the vice president's official residence Wednesday and encouraged them to spread the word about programs that support service members.

"I feel at home with all of you," said Biden, whose son, Army Maj. Beau Biden, serves in the Delaware Army National Guard. "I've traveled to many of your states and I've done many events with all of you. I'm just so happy that you could come say 'thank you' to me - but, really, I'm saying 'thank you' to you for all that you do."

While state adjutants general and senior enlisted leaders from the Army and Air National Guard discussed the future of the National Guard at the Guard Senior Leader Conference Feb. 25-26, their spouses learned more about initiatives available to the military and military families.

The two-day spouse program featured a brunch with Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, a visit to the USO on Fort Belvoir and presentations on initiatives designed to boost service member morale and support military families.

While she addressed the spouses, Biden also touched on some of the programs available to the military such as "Joining Forces," a national-level initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden designed to honor and support military families and United Through Reading. United Through Reading helps keep service members connected to their families during a separation.

After their brunch, the spouses visited Arlington Hall Station, the Army National Guard Readiness Center, and heard information about "Joining Community Forces," the National Guard's extension of the "Joining Forces" campaign.

For the spouses, who also included Pat Grass, wife of Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, the two days provided them with more insight into the different programs available to service members and their families that can be used in the states. It also offered an opportunity to build and strengthen partnerships, noted Blaire Brush, wife of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mitch Brush, the senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

"It's important to have a support network," she said.