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First Lady's Listening Tour Introduction

Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Pentagon Courtyard, Friday, April 09, 2010
I want to thank all of you for being here. Thank you for everything you do to serve our country.
 
I especially want to acknowledge the civil servants on the stage today. Men and women before you have roughly 800 years of public service among them. I know they are as excited as I am to welcome our First Lady to the Department of Defense.
 
Mrs. Obama has made it a point to visit with the employees of different federal agencies. Of course, the Pentagon is in a different category altogether – more like a small city then a cabinet department or office building. You can get a driver’s license, make a bank deposit, buy some flowers, and get a prescription filled without ever leaving the premises. More than a few of our eminent military leaders over the years, from General Eisenhower onward, have gotten lost in its corridors. But we’ll make sure the First Lady gets to where she needs to go.
 
In a little over a year as first lady, Mrs. Obama has made the well-being of America's military families one of her signature issues and priorities. She has traveled to many of our bases, listened to what is on the minds of our military, and their loved ones. She has been a vocal advocate for efforts to provide a spectrum of support to our military families – which in this year's budget request adds up to more than $8 billion for everything from spousal education to renovating Department Defense schools.
 
Mrs. Obama has called our military families “leaders in [their] own right” and applauded the “spirit of service” that they embody. She understands that the men and women in uniform and their families represent “our nation’s greatest military asset” – and I think we would all agree.
 
I know she appreciates your service to your country, and wants to hear from you directly. So without further delay, it is my honor, and a great pleasure, to introduce to you the First Lady of the United States.
 

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