Continuing their support of military families, the Bidens attend the 2017 Invictus Games

By Mala Adiga, Director for Higher Education and Military Families

Since leaving the White House, Dr. Jill Biden has remained committed to uplifting our country’s military community, particularly the spouses, children, and caregivers who serve alongside our service members and veterans. As the daughter of a Navy signalman and the mother of an Army National Guardsman, Dr. Biden champions military families through her work at the Biden Foundation.

This past weekend Dr. Biden and Vice President Biden traveled to Toronto, Ontario, to attend the third Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, sick, or injured warriors started by Prince Harry in 2014. They went to cheer on Team USA — as well as all 550 athletes from 17 nations — and meet with the family, friends, and volunteers who made the Games possible.

We started the trip with a stop at the wheelchair basketball preliminaries, where the Bidens caught up with some old friends.

President Obama, Prince Harry, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden speak together before joining spectators for wheelchair basketball preliminaries.

On Friday night we watched the swimming finals and spent time with the athletes’ families in the stands. Every race was close and it was incredible to witness not only the determination of the athletes but also the camaraderie between nations.

Vice President and Dr. Biden clap for medalists Sarah Watson (AUS), Sarah Sliwka (AUS), and Melissa Roberts (AUS) after the women’s 50m freestyle final.

Saturday afternoon brought the final event of the 2017 Invictus Games, the wheelchair basketball gold medal game — Team USA vs. Team Netherlands. The game was a nail biter, but the United States pulled through for the gold, 55–51! It was an honor for Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden to present the gold medals to the entire team and express their appreciation for the athletes’ continuing service to our country.

Dr. Biden congratulates Anthony Pone of Team USA after winning gold in the finals. Photo courtesy of Brendan Kownacki.

The 2017 Invictus Games came to a close Saturday evening at the Air Canada Centre. Dr. Biden and Vice President Biden started the night by taking part in a ceremony for all 550 athletes where they each received a medallion to mark their participation in the Games. Then the Bidens settled into their seats to watch the closing ceremony, which included performances from Kelly Clarkson, Bryan Adams, and The Boss, Bruce Springsteen! There were also remarks from Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, spouse of Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where she praised the commitment and love of the military families.

Vice President Biden shakes hands with an Invictus Games participant during the medallion ceremony on closing night. Photo courtesy of Roy & Carole Timm Photography.

As Prince Harry said in his closing remarks: “These Games are not about gold, silver, or bronze medals. They never have been. They’re about the journey that you and your families have made to the start line.” Each competitor was there to do their best but once the whistle blew, competition was secondary to the spirit of resilience these athletes and their families exhibit every single day.

As the Biden Foundation’s director for military families, I was thrilled to see these stories amplified to an international scale. The foundation continually looks for opportunities to support military families. Earlier this year, we held two convenings with military family organizations to discuss the current landscape and to receive feedback on the Foundation’s work in this area. Whether it’s through a large sporting event like the Invictus Games or a classroom of students supporting a child whose parent has deployed, we look forward to working alongside the indispensable organizations supporting military families.

Mala Adiga is the Biden Foundation’s director for higher education and military families. She previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration for nearly eight years, including as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues as well as in the White House’s National Security Staff and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dr. Biden greets a volunteer after wheelchair basketball preliminaries. The Games’ 1,500 volunteers were essential to the event’s success and spirit of camaraderie.
Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, President Barack Obama, and Prince Harry pose with Team USA for a quick pre-game group photo.
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