In an address to a meeting of the National Military Family Association, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced plans for aiding the families of military members who are serving overseas. The conference—“When Parents Deploy: Understanding the Experience of Military Children and Spouses”—was held at the Georgetown University Conference Center today.
Unveiling President Barack Obama’s call for the National Security Staff to lead a review that will, “develop a coordinated Federal-government wide approach to supporting and engaging military families,” according to the White House press release, she emphasized that as America asks more of its military, their families have a right to ask more of the American people.
The plan aims to make the federal government more friendly to the needs of military families by identifying their priorities, examining which policies do and do not work, and finding ways in which military experience can be used to better the U.S.
The First Lady started by recalling NMFA’s slogan, “Together we’re stronger,” and said that the American people all need to work together to help military families. “With just one percent of our population—our troops—doing 100 percent of the fighting, our military families are being tested like never before. [America] need[s] to give their families 100 percent support.”
Obama also said that although it “may pain the American people to hear this … too many military families feel that the American people have forgotten about them.”
“I envision an America where troops can deploy without having to worry about their family,” Obama said, adding that currently there is too much bureaucracy blocking access to benefits for the families of those serving.
In addition to this review, the Military Family Life Project is occurring this month; the project is a survey contacting 100,000 military family members and ascertaining what their needs are as a military family so that America can better serve them.
In concluding her address, Obama told the audience, “You don’t have to be a military expert to help out our troops,” and gave examples of companies such as Major League Baseball and Sesame Street that have partnered with military organizations to provide help to service members.
“Most military families don’t live on a base … you don’t have to be near a base to help our military,” she said. “They are our teachers, neighbors, friends.”
With this, Obama said it was a national challenge for Americans to get engaged with military families and help them in their time of need.
The Vice President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, was originally scheduled to join the First Lady, but was unable to attend due to her son being hospitalized.