In observance of Veterans Day, Dr. Biden honors the military community in Atlanta and D.C.

By Mala Adiga, director for higher education and military families

Veterans Day provides us with an opportunity to express our gratitude to the service members, veterans, and military families who keep our country safe. Last Friday, Dr. Jill Biden, honorary co-chair of the Biden Foundation, participated in two events to honor the veteran and military community.

In Atlanta, Dr. Biden was the keynote speaker at The Coca-Cola Company’s annual Veterans Employee Appreciation Day. Coca-Cola has committed to go the extra mile for service members, veterans, and their families. On Friday, The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded $1 million in grants to eleven veteran and military family organizations.

Dr. Jill Biden with Coca-Cola North America President Sandy Douglas and grant recipients from 11 veteran-serving nonprofit organizations: American Corporate Partners; American Red Cross; Folds of Honor Foundation; FourBlock Foundation; Hire Heroes USA; Operation Homefront, Inc.; The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation; Team Rubicon; The Mission Continues; USO; and United Spinal Association. (Photo courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company)

During her remarks, Dr. Biden defined three areas of focus for the Biden Foundation’s military families pillar. First, the foundation will support military-connected children, including the children of members of the National Guard and Reserves, to ensure parents have the resources and educators have the training they need to equip every child for success. Second, we will continue Dr. Biden’s commitment to reducing military spouse unemployment by collaborating with a coalition of external partners. Third, the foundation will work to raise awareness of mental health and well-being in military families and to empower them to build their resilience.

Dr. Jill Biden with members of the 2745th Seabee Battalion, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. (Photo courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company)

Dr. Biden was thrilled to meet with dozens of Coca-Cola employees who compose a small percentage of the approximately 4,000 veterans who work for the company. She also spent time with the American Military Spouses Choir, a group of military spouses from around the country who have found a common bond in music. They performed several songs, including a stirring rendition of “Lean on Me,” and thanked Dr. Biden for continuing to be an example of someone military spouses can lean on.

Dr. Jill Biden with members of the American Military Spouses Choir. (Photo courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company)
Dr. Jill Biden with Chief Warrant Officer Robert Bolling (left) and Master Sgt. W. O. Smith. (Photo courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company)

We then headed back to Washington, D.C., where Dr. Biden attended and offered remarks at a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund reception in honor of Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, chair of the 35th Anniversary of the Memorial Wall committee and the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense, spoke about his personal experience with the memorial. Other speakers included Lynn Novick, the co-director of The Vietnam War; Jim Knotts, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund President and CEO; and Maya Lin herself.

Dr. Biden spoke about the healing power of Maya’s vision of the memorial and the impact it has on all who view it. She said that the wall “is not just a memorial. It’s a chevron — a service stripe — a symbol of the duty our men carried in their hearts and on their sleeves.” The memorial’s reflective surface, she said, is a mirror in which we see not only ourselves, but also our responsibility to build a nation worthy of our veterans’ sacrifice:

“Maya Lin didn’t just create a memorial to them, she created a memorial within us — the chance to see that these names, these lives are a part of us now.”
From left to right: Jim Knotts, President, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; Dr. Jill Biden; Maya Lin; Lynn Novick, co-director, ‘The Vietnam War’; and Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Veterans Day is a time when the country stops, reflects, and acts in a way that honors our veterans, service members, and military families. We thank them for their service. The Biden Foundation commits to working with partners to shine a light, amplify voices, and find solutions that will make a difference in the lives of our military community.