First Lady Lauds Minnesota’s Military Family Support
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 First Lady Michelle Obama met with military families and support group leaders in Minnesota last week to “shine a spotlight” on the state’s efforts to aid troops and their families.
Speaking at a March 16 roundtable on Minnesota Air National Guard Base, the first lady called the state a model of military family support.
“We have just been amazed at how organizations and businesses and individuals are stepping up in ways large and small,” Obama said.
Spotlighting military family support efforts is one of the goals of the Joining Forces campaign, the first lady noted. She and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, launched this initiative last year to boost the nation’s support of troops, veterans and their families and “to highlight the great work that’s happening already.”
Obama encouraged roundtable participants to share their success stories. “I want to make sure that the rest of the nation understands how you work as a state, how your organizations come together, the needs of our military families and how organizations can serve them,” she said. “You’re educating me, but you’re also educating the nation.”
The roundtable included representatives from the support group Serving Our Troops and three Joining Forces Community Challenge finalists from Minnesota: the Armed Forces Service Center, Defending the Blue Line and GreenCare for Troops.
The Community Challenge is intended to recognize and celebrate individuals, communities and organizations that have displayed outstanding support to military families and veterans. Last month, the first lady and Biden announced the challenge’s 20 finalists, and will announce the winners in a White House ceremony April 11.
“We’ve got 1 percent of this country serving and sacrificing on behalf of the other 99 percent of us,” the first lady said. “That can be a daunting position to be in. And a lot of times America just doesn’t understand the struggles. … We take it for granted because you all handle and shoulder the burden so well.
“It’s time,” she added, “for people to really understand what military families and our military kids go through.”