First lady, Dr. Biden to launch family-support initiative

  • Published
  • By Elaine Sanchez
  • American Forces Press Service
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will launch a national initiative tomorrow that will call on all sectors of society to support and honor America's service members and their families.

The initiative is intended to educate, challenge and spark action among citizens, communities, businesses, nonprofits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations and the government, a White House release said.

Following the initiative's launch, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will embark on a two-day national tour to visit examples of communities, businesses and nonprofits working to support military families, the release said. Along the way, they'll highlight the work of Americans -- from teachers and business leaders to neighbors and volunteers -- who are serving military families.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will kick off their tour by speaking to 3,000 military and family members at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on April 13, the release said. Special guests Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos and Maj. Gen. Carl B. Jenson, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East, also will attend.

Following their remarks, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will visit with the organizers of Operation Shower, a nonprofit organization that hosts unit-wide baby showers for expecting military families in a deployment or high-stress situation, the release said. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will join in a celebration for 40 pregnant military spouses and deliver gifts donated through a White House Operation Shower donation drive. Special guest Martha Stewart will attend to teach scrapbooking to military moms.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden next will travel to San Antonio to visit with service members and families at the Warrior and Family Support Center. The center, built with private donations and run by community volunteers, helps care for family members while they care for a wounded warrior. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden also will meet privately with wounded warriors and families at nearby Brooke Army Medical Center.

They'll wrap up the day at an event at Coors Field in Denver. The Colorado Rockies and Coors Field has invited military families from across Colorado to a special viewing of the Rockies vs. Mets game. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will speak to the families and participate in activities with them. Special guests include entertainer Jessica Simpson and the Air Force Academy baseball team, which will practice with military children.

The next day, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will stop by the National Math and Science Competition at the Fountain-Fort Carson High School in Colorado Springs, Colo. In conjunction with the National Math and Science Initiative, they'll host a science competition where military parents will challenge the students at the school, which primarily serves military families. The event is intended to raise awareness of the challenges military children face and the need for advanced placement courses in math and science at schools serving military children. Joining them at the event will be gust participants from the Discovery Channel program "MythBusters."

Next, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will join Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden for an employment event in Columbus, Ohio, to highlight how several major businesses have made commitments to ensure job transferability for military spouses. By enabling spouses to transfer, they can more easily retain their jobs at a participating facility in their new community, the release said.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will wrap up their tour at a community event for military families in Columbus. The USO and Sesame Street will host a concert-style event honoring National Guard members and their families. Local organizations doing great work in their communities who need volunteers or donations to support military families will be recognized. The event will feature a performance from singer and producer Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and Sesame Street Muppets including Elmo. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, also will attend.

Earlier this year, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden previewed their new initiative during a National Governors Association meeting at the White House.

"We're very excited about this initiative because we think that this will not only help our troops and their families, but it will help us as a nation link together and be even stronger," the first lady said at the time.

"It's about showing our gratitude to that very small group of Americans who make such a tremendous contribution and sacrifice to this country," she added. "And it's about serving the people who sacrifice so much to serve us."