First Lady: Military Families Deserve Nation’s Support
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2011 Service members and their families have done all the nation has asked of them over this past decade of war; it’s now time for the nation to return their service and sacrifice with honor and appreciation, First Lady Michelle Obama wrote in an op-ed published in today’s edition of USA Today.
“We’ve never asked so much of our all-volunteer force,” she wrote. “And we’ve never asked this much of our military families either.”
Last weekend, the nation joined together to recall the events of 9/11, and to honor the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the terrorist attacks.
What stood out from those commemorative events weren’t memories of horror, the first lady noted, but images of heroes. What has perpetuated over the past 10 years aren’t the “echoes of evil,” she wrote, but the strength of those who lost loved ones and the courage of those who chose to run into the face of danger to save lives.
These same qualities exhibited in the aftermath of 9/11 live on in service members and their families, the first lady noted.
Obama called the more than 5 million service members who have served this past decade and their families ‘the 9/11 generation.’
More than 2 million troops have served in war zones, she added, and National Guardsmen and reservists have stepped up for an unprecedented number of deployments.
“They’ve rightfully earned not only the admiration of a grateful nation, but also a place in history alongside our greatest generations,” she wrote.
Family members also deserve recognition for their service and sacrifice, the first lady said. Spouses must balance careers and households alone during deployments, and children are growing up knowing only a war-time nation.
“Yet, even with all they shoulder, these military family members are some of the most extraordinary individuals I’ve ever met,” Obama wrote. “No matter what the situation or how many directions they’re being pulled in, our military families always stand ready to serve their loved ones, their communities and our country.”
It’s time for the nation to honor and appreciate their sacrifices -- “not just in word, but in deed,” she said.
Toward that end, last spring, Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched the Joining Forces campaign, a national initiative to raise awareness of military families and to offer them much-needed support. The campaign encourages every sector of society -- from individuals and communities to businesses and nonprofits -- to step up in support of military families and veterans.
Businesses, she wrote, can employ veterans and military spouses, schools can ensure they offer support to military children, and individuals can join organizations that help military families in their communities.
“Every single person, group or community can do something, and we’ve already seen countless individuals, organizations and businesses step up to answer this call,” the first lady said.
“These men, women and children have served valiantly in the decade since [9/11],” she said. “Now it’s up to us to serve them as well.”