June 11, 2012
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service) – Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and their five-year-old granddaughter, Natalie, shared their first-hand experiences on how the deployment of a military parent can impact children during a USO-hosted book reading here today.
The Bidens traveled to the District of Columbia National Guard Armory to meet with children of members of the D.C. National Guard. Dr. Biden read from her new book, “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops.”
Dr. Biden’s book teaches coping methods for military children who are dealing with the absence of loved ones during deployment. The book provides a personal account of Natalie’s experience in coping when her father, then-Army Capt. Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, departed in the fall of 2008 for a year-long deployment to Iraq with his Delaware National Guard unit. Biden, a military lawyer, has since been promoted to major.
“There are tens of thousands of beautiful kids just like this all over the country,” Vice President Biden said at the armory. “What we found out … was when your mommy and daddy are away it’s a hard thing. It’s a difficult thing.”
“So Jill found out there’s a lot of ways to kind of make you feel better,” he added. “By the way, it’s not just little kids. You don’t have to be four, five, six, seven or eight. You can be 17, 18, [or] 19. It doesn’t matter.”
Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan Washington, explained to the children who Dr. Biden was and why she came up with the idea to write a book to help military families.
“She loves children,” Rogers said of Dr. Biden. “But do you know which children are very special to her? Military children — children who have …” [one or both parents] “in the military.”
Rogers said Dr. Biden knows things can be hard when parents are away because of her experiences with her own two grandchildren, Natalie and Hunter.
“This is Natalie’s story, as well as your story, because how many your moms and dads have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan?” Dr. Biden asked the children. “What I realized when I went around this country, is that many Americans don’t even know anybody, at all, in the military.”
“And they don’t know how strong you are and how resilient you are when your moms and dads are away,” she added.
Prior to reading the book in its entirety, the Bidens provided free copies to each child at the armory. Proceeds from book sales, Rogers said, will be donated to the USO to support the education of military children.
“We’re going to make scholarships for kids like you when you get ready to go to college,” Rogers told the children.
Vice President Biden reminded the children to remember they are not alone in their experiences and their parents are constantly thinking of them.
“Just remember when your daddy and mommy are working for the country and they’re away — they’re always, always thinking about you,” he said. “And parents, thank you very much. Thank you for your service. It’s amazing what you do.”