White House Urges Americans to Support Troops
(April 16, 2011)
|WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama and
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched a
national initiative today that calls on all sectors of
society to join forces to support and honor service members
and their families.|
First Lady Michelle
Obama speaks at a White House ceremony, April
12, 2011, which launched a national initiative
that calls on all sectors of society to join
forces to support and honor service members and
their families. DOD photo by Linda Hosek
Flanked by their husbands, the
first and second ladies announced the “Joining Forces”
military-support campaign, which aims to raise awareness of
military families and spark all Americans -- from citizens
and communities, to businesses and nonprofit groups -– to
take action to ensure troops and their families have the
support they need and deserve.|
“This campaign is
about all of us, all of us joining together as Americans to
give back to the extraordinary military families who serve
and sacrifice so much every day so we can live in freedom
and security,” the first lady told a packed audience of top
Defense Department and government officials, service members
and military spouses at the White House.
families are strong and resilient, and “they don't
complain,” she said. But this same strength may cause
Americans to overlook families' immense sacrifices.
As a country, Americans don't always see military families,
our “heroes on the home front,” Obama added.
ensure their voices are heard, the first lady said the first
step in their campaign journey will be to raise awareness of
military families and the sacrifices they make.
truth is, our military families are all around us,” she
said, noting most military families live off base.
Military families, she continued, are neighbors and
co-workers, and children sitting in classrooms across the
nation. Many are National Guard members or reservists,
serving in civilian jobs one day and in uniform the next.
And just about every town in the country has a veteran, the
first lady said.
“We want Americans to realize in a
way that every community is a military community,” she said.
Obama said a series of public service announcements -–
from organizations such as NASCAR and celebrities such as
Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks -- soon will help shine a light
on military families. Additionally, she said, writers,
producers, directors and actors have committed to telling
more stories of military families in TV shows and movies.
Obama said the next step for Joining Forces will be a
call to action.
Their efforts, based on conversations
with military families, will focus on three key areas:
employment, education and wellness, including mental health,
In the area of employment, the first lady
said she and Biden will be champions for military spouses as
they pursue jobs and advance careers.
they'll work to help military children thrive in the
classroom, the first lady added, especially as the children
move from school to school. And they'll help spouses
continue their education and obtain degrees.
wellness, “we're going to remind our nation that just as our
troops deserve the best support when dealing with the
stresses of war and long deployments, so do military spouses
and children,” the first lady said.
motto is simple, Obama said: “Everyone can do something.”
Obama recounted the many sectors of society that already
have pledged to help. The campaign will join forces with the
federal government, which earlier this year, made nearly 50
commitments to improve the lives of military families.
They'll join forces, Obama continued, with states,
cities and local governments. States, for example, can help
spouses obtain licenses and certifications, and ease
children's transitions to new schools.
join forces with businesses, the first lady said. Some
companies will be telling military spouses working at their
stores that they'll have a job when they move to a new duty
location. One company is setting aside 10 percent of
positions for veterans, she added.
The Chamber of
Commerce also is stepping up, the first lady said, by
encouraging members to hire military spouses and veterans
and to find mentors for military wives. The Chamber has
agreed to host more than 100 job fairs across the country.
Technology companies, she said, will help connect
military spouses and veterans with companies that are hiring
and train them in new technologies so they can start their
Turning to nonprofits, Obama said
these groups also will pitch in to support families. The USO
will expand its efforts to help Americans to support
military families, she said, and the Military Child
Education Coalition is teaming up with the national PTA and
with more than 100 teaching colleges to help teachers in
communities better serve military kids.
this is about all of us joining forces as Americans and we
can do it right where we live and work,” the first lady
said. An offer of mowing a lawn or shoveling snow can go a
long way, she said, as can an offer to pick up an extra
carpool shift or deliver a home-cooked meal to a parent with
a deployed spouse.
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at the White House launch of 'Joining Forces,' a national initiative that calls on all sectors of society to join forces to support and honor service members and their families, April 12, 2011. DOD photo by Linda Hosek
Everyone can commit to one small
act of kindness, said Biden, who is a military mom herself.
Her son, Beau, is in the Delaware Army National Guard.
“There are countless ways to help -- some large, and
many small, but all important,” she said. “And I can tell
you from personal experience -- all appreciate it.
“Imagine for a moment not just what these small gestures
mean to a family, but what they mean to a soldier thousands
of miles away who knows that someone is looking out for the
ones he loves back home,” Biden added.
learn more about supporting military families on the
campaign's new website, called Joining Forces.gov. Visitors
can send messages of thanks, find opportunities to get
involved and share stories of service.
response to this call to action, the Center for
a New American Security will coordinate
commitments and mobilize support for JoiningForces. These efforts will be led by a board of
Americans, including retired Army Gen. Stanley
A. McChrystal and Patty Shinseki, wife of Department of
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. |
said she and Biden will begin a whirlwind trip tomorrow to
highlight America's efforts to support military families and
to provide examples for others to follow. At each stop, she
said, they'll ask Americans: “How can I give back to these
families who are giving me so much?”
The first lady
vowed her ongoing support, which she hopes will be sustained
for the long term.
“It's our hope that what we're
launching today becomes part of the fabric of our country,”
she said. “Working together we're going to make sure our
military families are never forgotten.”
Article and photos by Elaine Sanchez|
American Forces Press Service
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