First Lady Stresses Support for Military Families During Fort Bragg Visit
By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 12, 2009 In her first solo trip as first lady, Michelle Obama visited one of the U.S. military’s busiest communities today and stressed the importance of reaching out to support soldiers and their families.
First lady Michelle Obama is greeted by soldiers inside the Iron Mike Dining Facility at Fort Bragg, N.C., March 12, 2009. Obama spent most of the day on the post before traveling to nearby Fayetteville to meet with city leaders. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Our soldiers and their families have done their duty,” Obama said during a speech at Fort Bragg, N.C. “And we as a grateful nation must do ours and do everything in our power to honor them by supporting them.”
Support of military families is an issue Obama has focused much attention on during her first weeks in the White House. The plight of military families and the stress they endure from steady deployment rotations is a concern she’s spoken candidly about.
The Fort Bragg-Fayetteville, N.C., community has been a revolving door of deployments and continuous combat training since 9/11. The community facilitates more than 60,000 soldiers, airmen and their families from Pope Air Force Base, the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The families and local community are very familiar with struggles the first lady addressed.
“Service doesn't end with the person wearing the uniform; the war doesn't end when a soldier returns home,” she said. “Military family members have their own special courage and strength.”
Obama talked about her husband’s plans to improve military housing and child care. The Obama Administration is working to raise military pay, expand job training for spouses and provide better counseling and support for overwhelmed families, she said.
“These are the issues that soldiers and their families have discussed with me over the last couple of years, and I heard about it again today,” she said. “Military families bear a very heavy burden. But as a nation, we need to find ways to lighten their load.”
During her visit, Obama spent most of the day touring the post’s facilities and meeting with troops and their families. She met with soldiers during their lunch and she took the time to read the “Cat in the Hat” to some of their children.
“This has been an exciting, fabulous day,” she said. “I had the best time visiting one of the excellent child care centers. It was a very meaningful visit for me.”
Obama called Fayetteville a “shining example” of a military community, applauding the city and its leaders for “going above and beyond the call of duty” to support Fort Bragg’s soldiers and families.
“You have found ways to help strengthen families under great stress,” the first lady said. “Fayetteville clearly does watch over those who watch over us.”