Last Thursday I had the distinct honor to attend a special White House event celebrating the 5th anniversary of Joining Forces, an initiative that First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched in 2011 in order to support service members, veterans, and their families through wellness, education, and employment opportunities. Joining Forces works closely with both the public and private sectors to ensure that service members, veterans and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout their lives.
The primary objectives of Joining Forces include:
- Bringing attention to the unique experiences and strengths of America’s service members, veterans and their families.
- Inspiring, educating, and sparking action from all sectors of society —citizens, communities, businesses, nonprofits faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure service members, veterans and their families have the opportunities, resources and support they have earned.
- Showcasing the skills, experience and dedication of America’s service members, veterans and their families to strengthen our nation’s communities.
- Creating greater connections between the American public and the military.
You can find more information about this important and effective initiative here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces.
I attended the event as a representative of Palo Alto Networks along with Chuck Konrad, who is our Director of Recruiting, Sales and Engineering at Palo Alto Networks and leads our veteran-focused initiatives.
This event was indeed special for one very important reason. During the ceremony in the White House State Dining Room, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced a new private sector hiring and training initiative where more than 40 companies have committed to hiring 110,000 veterans and military spouses. In addition, 15 companies and organizations have also committed to lead training programs, sponsor scholarships and support certification courses for nearly 60,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years, primarily in the fields of aerospace, telecommunications and technology. You can read the First Lady’s remarks from the event here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/05/remarks-first-lady-joining-forces-fifth-anniversary-employment-event.
As a retired Major General in the U.S. Army with more than 35 years of service, let me tell you that you’re going to want to read the First Lady’s remarks at the website above. I was deeply moved during Michelle Obama’s remarks, and I can tell you that she spoke from her heart and showed her deep commitment to this effort. Dr. Biden, a proud Blue Star mom, emphasized the importance of supporting our veterans when they return home and how hiring veterans and military spouses is good for both companies and the morale of our military. It does this old Soldier’s heart good to see such deep respect and support for the welfare, educational and employment opportunities of our current and former military and their families coming from the top, and the First Lady and Dr. Biden set the example magnificently! I was truly humbled by their leadership.
As a strong supporter of this program, we’re doing our part. Along with our Education Services Team and our Veterans Programs team, we conducted a pilot training program for veterans in February 2016, where we trained 16 veterans in a one-week course for our ACE Accreditation. We’re proud to report that each veteran that took the final accreditation exam passed it, which helped prove to us that the program was successful and scalable.
As a result, we’ve committed to Joining Forces to train 400 veterans and transitioning service members over the next five years through the Palo Alto Networks Academy program. After completion of the coursework and successfully passing the accreditation exam, candidates will receive their Palo Alto Networks ACE (Accredited Configuration Engineer) Accreditation and career guidance on entering the cybersecurity workforce. More information can be found at: www.paloaltonetworks.com/veterans.