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First Lady Takes ‘Joining Forces’ to Oceana

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama brought the national “Joining Forces” initiative to Naval Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., today, where she attended a screening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” with hundreds of military family members.

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First lady Michelle Obama reads to 5 and 6-year-olds at the Naval Air Station Oceana Child and Youth Programs summer camp in Virginia Beach, Va, July 21, 2011. Obama visited classrooms and met with children before speaking at the base theather before the on-base premiere of the latest Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2." U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Terah L. Mollise

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Joining Forces is designed to build support for military members and their families in all facets of the U.S. government and American society.

“We are working hard for you, to make sure you know how much this country appreciates each and every one of you,” Obama told the military families at the screening.

The first lady toured the youth program’s summer camp before continuing the Joining Forces Movie Series, in which major movie studios host special movie screenings for military families.

“Thank you to all the moms and dads that we have here today,” Obama said. “I want to thank you -- those of you who wear our uniform. And thank you to all of you who don’t wear the uniform and serve, because no matter which group you fall into, all of you are serving our country.

“We are so incredibly proud of you, and we want to thank you,” she continued. “We cannot thank you enough for everything that you’re doing [and] the sacrifices that you’re making to serve this country.”

The first lady also had a special message for military children before the movie began.

“Over the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting military kids across this country, so I know how extraordinary all of you are,” she said. “I’ve seen it, and I know the challenges that you face –- and there are many. So many of you have had to learn to live with moving a lot, right? Picking up, moving for your third, fourth or fifth school, starting new schools again and again, right?” she asked.

“That's not always easy,” she said. “But you do it -- having to make new friends everywhere you go, being apart from your mom or your dad or someone special in your life for months on end because they’ve been deployed. That's not easy.”

Obama reassured the families plenty more support is yet to come from the Joining Forces initiative.

“I’m happy to say that already there are so many people, organizations and businesses from across the country who are stepping up,” she said. “And that's starting with the federal government.

“My husband has directed every single agency in the government to identify ways to support military families,” the first lady said. “They came back to him earlier in the year and presented 50 concrete recommendations that they’re going to be implementing.”

Obama also said companies such as Wal-Mart and Sears are working to hire and train more military spouses, and chambers of commerce are holding job fairs specifically for military families.

She noted that teachers and learning support organizations also are taking part in the program.

“The National PTA is educating its local chapters across the country about the challenges and experiences of military students so that teachers, schools and organizations are more in touch with what you all are going through,” she said. “This is just one of the ways that this country wants to show you our gratitude for all that you’ve given [us].”

Obama assured the families that their sacrifices are noticed and appreciated. “You do it every day, and we are just grateful and proud,” she said. “It is an honor for me to have been able to spend this time with you.”

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Related Sites:
Special Report: Joining Forces
Joining Forces

Click photo for screen-resolution imageFirst Lady Michelle Obama dances with 5 and 6-year-olds at the Naval Air Station Oceana Child and Youth Program summer camp during a tour of the facility in Virginia Beach, Va., July 21, 2011. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Terah L. Mollise  
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