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First Lady, Dr. Biden Urge Troop, Family Support

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2010 – Just days after the combat mission in Iraq ended, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, reminded Americans that their commitment to military families must carry on.

“All of us are called to an ongoing mission: to support our troops, veterans and their families, whether they are here at home, serving in Afghanistan, or supporting the Iraqi people as they forge their own future,” Obama and Biden wrote in an op-ed titled, “The Troops Need Us,” published today in USA Today.

America has made progress in its military support in recent years, they noted, with many communities stepping up with innovative programs. Employers have created ways to support military families, classrooms have adopted deployed servicemembers and units, and people have committed “countless other acts of kindness.”

Still, they acknowledged, much work remains to be done. Obama and Biden said they’ve heard from military families – in communities from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Camp Pendleton, Calif., - who feel the nation isn’t engaged enough in the war effort. They’ve spoken to National Guard families who feel isolated during deployments, and to military children having a tough time in school during deployments.

Yet, these families are making tremendous contributions to their communities.

“They are troops who come home from a long deployment and coach Little League or mentor a child,” Obama and Biden wrote. “They are children who tutor their younger siblings, and spouses who balance their families with jobs, school, community service — or all of the above. They are wounded warriors, survivors and veterans who continue to give so much to our country.”

In turn, the Obama administration is working to give back to America’s veterans and military families, they wrote. Officials are building a 21st-century Veterans Affairs Department, improving care for traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, fortifying military family readiness programs, helping veterans get a college education and combating homelessness among veterans.

“But government can only do so much,” they wrote.

Obama and Biden reiterated a call to action that has been a constant theme in their military-related talks: “support and engage our military families.”

“You don't have to come from a military family, have a base in your community, or be an expert in military issues to make a difference,” they wrote. “Every American can do something.”

Businesses and organizations, for instance, can expand job opportunities and find ways to leverage the work they’re already doing to support military families. Obama and Biden encouraged Americans to visit http://www.serve.gov to see how others are working to support military families in their communities.

America has welcomed home nearly 100,000 troops from the war in Iraq. Still, “One percent of our population is doing 100 percent of the fighting, but we need 100 percent of Americans working to support our troops and their families,” they wrote.

“We can do this,” Obama and Biden wrote. “In every community, every day, we can find concrete ways to show our military families the respect and gratitude that each of us holds for them in our hearts. They deserve our support long after the welcome home ceremonies are over.

“That's the spirit that defines us as Americans, and it's who we need to continue to be in the months and years ahead.”

 

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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

10/15/2010 2:35:01 PM
Having been an FGR leader since 2003 until last month, support for FRG’s has been increasing at the top levels but at the unit levels in the Reserve and National Guard has been very hard to maintain. When the troops are deployed as unit families are very active but when they come back the FRG almost dies. Full time family support assistants are far and few in between and usually very busy to call or e-mail back to individual concerns. When training for personnel or orders to put family FRG members to attend training or even reimbursements is turned down due to “NO funds” available it’s hard to get families to travel 40 to 100 miles round trip to attend. FRG’s in the reserve and National Guard do not have the luxury of ON post FRG’s have. Most are are miles from any active military installation. Maybe someone needs to look what can be done for Reserve and NG unit FRG’s most have had only one or two personnel in their FRG’s due to so many restrictions.
- Espiridon Castillo, Victoria, TX

9/3/2010 11:24:03 AM
My husband is an active duty marine and our family recently moved to Okinawa Japan. We brought our family dog with us to Okinawa. He is now residing with friends because we were not offered Tier 1 pet friendly housing. We will have to send our dog back to the states soon if we can not resolve this issue. Since Mrs. Obama says that she wants to support the military families who have made many sacrifices, I wrote her and asked her to help me with my situation back in early July. I have received no respones. My family and I have made many sacrifices for the military, many deployments and operations where we endured long seperations. My husband left for his second tour in Iraq the day my mother was buried. I feel like I should not have to give up a member of our family, and make yet another sacrifice. If Mrs. Obama says she wants to make our lives better, then where is she when there are many others on this island in the same situation.
- Melissa Milligan, okinawa japan

9/3/2010 11:15:17 AM
I commend our First Lady and Mrs. Biden for encouraging our nation to support the troops, our veterans, our wounded veterans, and military families as well. It is very easy to go on with our normal lives and forget those are are putting their own lives in danger for the cause and defense of freedom, here and throughout the world. Also, I commend our President for recently urging our nation to care for and remain committed to those military men and women who have served in Iraq. They have given much. Let us never forget those who have made the supreme sacrifice in military service for our nation. These are the ones who will no longer be able to fulfill their hopes and dreams for the future. The only way they will now be able to make contributions to their communities is through the work their families will carry out in their memory. May we never allow their names, their lives or their legacies to be forgotten. Thank you.
- Donna Parker, Camden, NY

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