One of Jill Biden’s priorities as First lady is to better understand the key issues affecting military families, a vulnerable population that has experienced adversity through the pandemic including food security and extended deployments.

Biden recently addressed a panel of military family service organizations and educators to affirm that “giving military kids what they need to thrive is not just a nice thing to do, it’s critical to our national security,” Military Times reports. She said that the Biden administration would be partnering with service agencies, such as the Military Child Education Coalition, through restarting the Obama-era program Joining Forces.

Issues brought up during the listening session included mental health issues of children during the pandemic, reaffirming education as a readiness issue, and providing tools to teachers to meet the emotional needs of children experiencing military life.

“Our students’ strength can mask how hard it really is. You know what they’re going through. You see the pain they hide. You know the challenges they face,” said Biden. “I hope you’ll help this initiative reflect the experiences of students today, so that we can truly serve the military families who serve us all.”

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Dowell