First Lady, Dr. Biden Urge Troop, Family Support
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 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.”