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NEWS | Feb. 24, 2022

First Lady visits JBSA-Lackland to discuss Joining Forces initiative

By Ashley Snipes 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland hosted the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, Feb. 23. The Mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, and his wife, Erika Prosper-Nirenberg, as well as Air Education and Training Command leadership, were also on hand to welcome Dr. Biden at JBSA-Kelly Field.

Biden spent time at the Lackland Gateway Child Development Center in a roundtable discussion about the White House’s Joining Forces initiative and the challenges military children with disabilities face.

She was joined by spouses, parents of children in the Exceptional Family Member Program, veterans, EFMP representatives, 502nd Air Base Wing leadership, school liaisons, as well as local community members involved with the special needs population.

“Again and again in my travel to bases, I’ve heard that for families who have children with disabilities, it’s so difficult to get the support services the kids need when families move from duty station to duty station,” Biden said. “We are bringing together every part of our government and partners across sectors to make sure you have what you need to thrive.”

The Joining Forces initiative was created to support military and veteran families, caregivers and survivors. The program prioritizes three main areas affecting military families: Employment and Entrepreneurship, Military Child Education, and Health and Well-Being. The first lady’s visit to the JBSA-Lackland CDC highlighted the Department of Defense Exceptional Family Member Program.

“We have been working very hard at Military Community & Family Policy to standardize some of the EFMP processes that can be so challenging and cumbersome for our families,” said Patricia Barron, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. “Part of what we’ve done is to work very closely with each service to standardize enrollment, disenrollment, assignments and respite care so there will be a ‘no-wrong-door’ approach, no matter where a family finds themselves at any duty station.”

“Here at Joint Base San Antonio, we have nearly 5,000 EFMP sponsors,” said Frances Anderson, a JBSA EFMP coordinator. “Because we are a resource-rich community in San Antonio, this is often one of only a few installations that might be appropriate for a family with intensive needs.”

As each participant provided their background or job tasks, Biden asked how Joining Forces can help support programs better.

“We are going to continue to work on these things,” Biden said. “We have to know where the holes are in the fabric to be able to sew it all together.”

Biden also visited the University of Texas Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she toured the facility and attended a listening session focused on addressing cancer health gaps in the Latino community.