President Joe Biden touched down in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, his first overseas trip since taking over the White House this year.
For his first official event, the president — alongside first lady Jill Biden — addressed Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in the U.K.
The Bidens have a long, personal connection to the military. Dr. Biden’s father, Donald Jacobs, served in the Navy during World War II; President Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, who Jill also raised, served in both the United States Army and the Delaware Army National Guard before his death from brain cancer in 2015.
“As the daughter of a Navy member from World War II, and mother of someone who served a year in Iraq, and now is your first lady, I am so proud to be here with all of you to begin our first overseas trip,” Dr. Biden said in her remarks ahead of the president's speech.
The first lady also touched on her renewed Joining Forces effort, a whole-of-government plan that aims to increase employment opportunities for military spouses, educating and supporting military children and promoting access to health and wellbeing services.
“Through our White House initiative to support military families called Joining Forces, we are going to find military spouse employment and entrepreneurship, make sure that you can get quality childcare when you need it, and provide the education that your children deserve,” she said.
Dr. Biden has spoken often of the initiative since her husband took office this year, saying over Memorial Day weekend that it remains “one of [her] top priorities” as first lady.
The original Joining Forces began in 2011 under President Barack Obama's administration and was led by Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, when Joe Biden was vice president. The mission was to encourage the public and private sectors to support service members, veterans, their families and their caregivers. The program focused on education, employment and wellness.
The president, who was greeted with a standing ovation when he took the stage, also spoke of the Joining Forces effort, saying a “key reason” Dr. Biden restarted the program was to ensure that troops, both domestic and abroad, feel supported.
Biden also said he was “so proud to be here to kick off my first overseas trip as president,” stressing that he will use the visit to re-emphasize America’s role in defending democracy at home and abroad.
“At every point along the way, we're going to make it clear that the United States is back,” Biden said, adding: “And democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and issues that matter most to our future.”
Biden will likely reiterate that message during an upcoming meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The president on Wednesday said he will “let [Putin] know that I want him to know” during their tet-a-tet, which is set to take place on June 16.
The president will also participate in a NATO summit, where he said he will discuss with European leaders on how they can partner with the United States on key issues like global health, economic opportunities and national security.
"Our alliances weren't built by coercion or maintained by threats — they're grounded on democratic ideals, shared visions of the future, and where every voice matters,” Biden said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.