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Family Matters Blog: First Lady Thanks Nation for ‘Outpouring’ of Military Support

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2012 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, marked the one-year anniversary of their Joining Forces campaign this week with a renewed call to action and a message of gratitude to the nation.

“The hours logged, the services donated, the love and devotion and offers to help that have poured in from every corner of the country -- all of that has far surpassed even our wildest expectations,” Obama said at an anniversary event on the South Lawn of the White House April 11.

I vividly remember attending the launch of this military-support initiative last year at the White House. Flanked by their husbands and senior military leaders, the first and second ladies announced their intent to raise awareness of military families and to spur Americans to better support troops, veterans and their families for years to come.

"This campaign is about all of us, all of us joining together as Americans to give back to the extraordinary military families who serve and sacrifice so much every day so we can live in freedom and security," the first lady said at the time.

This week, the first lady and Dr. Biden celebrated the campaign’s anniversary with the White House event, followed by a whirlwind two-day tour across the nation. They spoke to everyone from military spouses and teens, to nurses seeking to provide better care for military families, to late-night talk show hosts, including satirist Stephen Colbert.

But fanfare aside, their intent was simple: to spread a message of gratitude for the “outpouring of support” Americans gave military families over the past year.

At the anniversary event, the first lady ticked off a list of contributions from the past year:

-- More than 1,600 businesses have hired more than 50,000 veterans and spouses, and have pledged to hire at least 160,000 more in the coming years;

-- Technology and employment companies such as Google, Monster and LinkedIn have stepped up to help connect veterans with jobs;

-- State leaders are passing legislation to ease employment woes for military spouses with professional licenses moving across state borders;

-- Medical schools are training health care providers so they can better care for military families;

-- The Defense, Veterans Affairs, Treasury and Labor departments all have made “groundbreaking” announcements to support veterans, wounded warriors, caregivers and military spouses;

-- Associations of doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants and social workers are working to improve treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries;

-- TV shows such as “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Sesame Street” and organizations such as NASCAR, AOL and Disney are sharing military families’ stories; and

-- Stars such as Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg have appeared in a series of popular public service announcements.

“If I had to sum up what we have seen since launching Joining Forces in one word, it would be ‘inspiring,’” Dr. Biden said at the anniversary event. “These efforts aren’t always in the headlines, but they support our military families every single day in real and meaningful ways.”

While a powerful gauge of the nation’s commitment, Joining Forces’ true impact can’t be measured in numbers of hours served, the first lady said. “The true measure of our success lies in the lives that we’ve helped to change.”

The first lady reiterated her call to action by asking Americans “to keep raising the bar” through actions big and small.

“We’re going to keep driving forward until all of our nation’s military families feel in real and concrete ways the love and support and gratitude that we all hold in our hearts,” the first lady said, calling Joining Forces a “forever proposition.” “That is our simple promise to you.”

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