By Elvia Kelly, Fort Stewart Public AffairsFebruary 17, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - As the halls of Joseph Martin Elementary School stand filled with decorative photo boards of Soldiers and their Families, the teachers and students waited for the arrival of a special guest, one who holds military Families dear to her heart. Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, accompanied by Mrs. Sheila Casey, visited the home of the 3rd Infantry Division, Feb. 14.
Her visit is not without purpose. Dr. Biden is an advocate of education for Military Families. As a Blue Star mom and a teacher, she understands the importance of quality education for all Americans.
Shortly after greeting the children of Joseph Martin, Dr. Biden met with teachers and administrators to discuss issues regarding school systems, deployments, and the Military Family. Her hope was to hear about positive aspects of the community as well as the negative, and avenues to improve the issues discussed at the meeting held at Joseph Martin's media center.
"Making good education possible for Military Families is close to my heart," said Dr. Biden. "I'm a military mom; I'm a teacher, and I bring greetings from the First Lady and the President because this is one of the major issues they want to work on. It's having good education for all Americans. Thank you for talking with us, and seeing what's good, what's bad, and what we can make better."
After speaking with Joseph Martin's professionals, Dr. Biden attended a meet-and-greet with Army spouses at Club Stewart. As they eagerly waited for Dr. Biden's coming on this special Valentine's Day, the spouses conversed amongst themselves over lunch.
"I think [Dr. Biden visiting with spouses] is great. I know that their schedules are jam-packed to the minute," said Kelly Clark, a Family Member who attended the meet-and-greet at Club Stewart. "So, the fact that they can take time out to come and just meet with us and be part of our world for a short time and hear what we have to say is a great opportunity for us."
Clark, who has children in Liberty County's public school system and is an educator as well, looks forward to hearing Dr. Biden's message to military spouses. She is interested in knowing how Dr. Biden's ideas of a good education system will come into effect.
"We're having a lunch meeting with Dr. Jill Biden and Ms. Casey during their visit," explains Clark, "to hear about their ideas within the Army and their programs that they're working on. I'm assuming to get some feedback on how we see those things playing out here at Fort Stewart."
Dr. Biden and Mrs. Casey were received with a round of applause as Family Members stood to welcome them at Club Stewart's Palmetto Room.
"I am a Blue Star mom, and I'd like you to know that our administration is totally committed to making things better for military Families," shared Dr. Biden. "You do so much, all of you, whether you are deployed or not deployed. Whether you are a Military Family [or not], you are serving, too. We realize that. Michelle [Obama] and I have really made it our priority going around to bases and listening to Families. We are taking it a step further and making sure that we hear you and that we're answering your needs."
The plight of Military Families is something Dr. Biden keeps close to her heart. She wants the military community to know that it is her goal to seek ways to improve the issues and challenges Family Members face.
"I liked that both Dr. Biden and Mrs. Casey were so accessible and mingled through the crowd," said Clark. "I was expecting more of an informal Q&A type session, but can't say that I was disappointed. I am pleased to have had the chance to meet them both. This Army life is full of many interesting opportunities - today was simply an example of that."
At the conclusion of Dr. Biden's visit, she briefly answered questions at a Press Conference held near Marne Garden.
She shared that it was a great honor to meet with all the Blue Star Families, and her visit to Joseph Martin was a pleasant one.
And for Clark, Dr. Biden's visit marked a great opportunity for Army Families to hear, firsthand, the Administration's plan for the military community.
"Dr. Biden is a tremendous advocate for our military children in the area of education, a point near and dear to my heart as a mother and teacher," said Clark.