First Lady Dr. Jill Biden kept her late stepson Beau Biden close to her heart as she announced the next phase of Joining Forces, a White House initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors. President Joe Biden’s wife wore a necklace featuring Beau’s name as she virtually spoke with military families on Wednesday. Joining Forces, which was launched by Dr. Biden and former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011, will focus on military family employment and entrepreneurship, military child education and military family health and well-being.
The first lady spoke on April 7 about why the initiative is “personal” to her. “When [Beau] joined the Delaware Army National Guard, you know, I felt the unique pull of both incredible pride and concern that every military mom knows so well,” she said in her remarks. “When Beau served for a year in Iraq, I saw how his children navigated his deployment and I often wondered how people so small could be so strong. Without a doubt, being part of this military community has shaped who I am.”
Beau, who served in the Delaware National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2008, died in 2015 after battling brain cancer. Beau was the eldest of the president’s children from his first marriage to Neilia Hunter Biden, who passed away in 1972.
Following Beau’s death, then-Vice President Biden released a statement saying (via the New York Times), “It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life,” adding, “In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”
Last month, the first lady opened up in an essay for Oprah Daily about how her family healed after Beau’s passing. “When I was younger and upset, my mother used to tell me, ‘Things will always look better in the morning.’ How many days in those dark months had she been proven wrong? How many times had I awakened from a dream, only to realize my child isn’t back, feeling like we’ve lost him all over again? Yet, she was also right. The sun keeps coming up, and the spring keeps coming back. The world turns, and each morning brings you gifts of the life that continues: coffee with the man who’s loved you through better and beyond worse; full dinner tables with flickering candles and long conversations; grandchildren who pull you back to yourself and your family, even when it’s the last thing you think you want,” she wrote.
“This is what I know for sure: At some point in our lives, we will all be broken and bruised— but we are not alone. We find joy together. We persevere together. The morning always comes, and the seasons always change. We walk hand in hand through the twists and turns, and when we can’t walk, we let ourselves be carried by those we love,” the first lady continued. “These are the gifts we have to give: our strength, our vulnerability, our faith in one another. We know we cannot always heal ourselves, but we can lean on each other and lift each other up. And together, we are so much more resilient than we know.”