Tag Archives: military families

First Lady Michelle Obama at the Holiday Preview: “It’s the People’s House

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Jordan Harp

First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the holiday season by welcoming military families who organize a local branch of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive to the White House. “The idea behind this year’s theme,” Mrs. Obama said, “is Simple Gifts, because in the end, the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing — the time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need.”

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In her remarks, the First Lady discussed the importance of opening the doors of the White House during the holiday season and thanked the nearly 100 volunteers from across the country that made it all possible:

In many ways, this is really what the White House is all about.  And I say this all the time. It’s the “People’s House.”  It’s a place that is steeped in history, but it’s also a place where everyone should feel welcome.  And that’s why my husband and I have made it our mission to open up the house to as many people as we can, especially during the holiday seasons.

So it goes without saying that when you look around, that our family never could have done all of this wonderful decorating on our own.  In fact, we only did a little bit of it. That’s why over the last few days nearly 100 volunteers from all over the country have been working so hard.  They’ve been making all the ornaments that — many of them that you’ve seen.  They’ve been hanging the lights and transforming these rooms into breathtaking works of art.  And I have to say the house looks more beautiful than it did last year.  It is really something special.

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with a boy during a craft demonstration in the State Dining Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010. The First Lady visited three creative stations where children of military personnel worked on holiday projects. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Thanking the military families in attendance for their sacrifice and service, the First Lady introduced the President and CEO of “Toys for Tots,” Lieutenant General Pete Osman. Lieutenant General Osman shared a touching story about a family impacted by Toys for Tots:

A couple of years back, there was a wonderful family in D.C. — Mom, Dad, five kids.  Happy family.  And unfortunately, tragedy struck.  The father took ill and quickly passed away.  The mom, who had been a stay-at-home mom, all of a sudden found herself having to find a job while still raising her five children.  She realized she was going to have to make some tough choices, and she did.  I mean, she had a house payment to make, utilities, food to buy, clothing and all that, and she said, “We’re going to have to cut Christmas this year.”

First Lady Michelle Obama shows off a card during a craft demonstration in the State Dining Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010. The First Lady visited three creative stations where children of military personnel worked on holiday projects. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Now, she had to make this decision early on, probably in the October time frame.  And she was comfortable with it.  But as Christmas drew nearer and nearer, she became very concerned.  In fact, on Christmas Eve, she was distraught.  She was beside herself with the thought on Christmas morning her children were going to come downstairs and there weren’t going to be any gifts under that little Charlie Brown Christmas tree that they had.

Fortunately, the knock at the door came, and standing there were two Marines, a couple of volunteers, and a bunch of boxes full of toys.  So needless to say, for the Johnsons the next morning, they had a wonderful Christmas.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Interesting thing was one of the toys was a big old red fire truck.  And one of her sons really took a liking to that fire truck.  That became his favorite toy that day and for the rest of the next year and actually to years after that.  And as you would have it, that fire truck had an impact. Today, that man is one of D.C.’s finest.  He’s a firefighter with the D.C. Fire Department.

So if you don’t think that toy makes a difference, just remember this story.  And the great thing is, is there are thousands of stories just like that out there.

To find out ways to get involved, visit the Toys for Tots website.

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Remarks by the First Lady at Holiday Press Preview

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Filed under Christmas at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama, Uncategorized

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Discuss Military Families

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Trooper Sanders

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden meet with Leadership 18 members in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden met at the White House today with Leadership 18, a coalition of national non-profit chief executive officers, to discuss military family matters.  They were joined by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his wife Deborah Mullen, Dr. Cliff Stanley, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and other White House officials.  The First Lady and Dr. Biden have issued a national call to action to address the unique challenges facing military families, build stronger civilian-military community ties, and engages and highlights the service and sacrifice of military families.  The meeting today provided an opportunity to discuss ways to build a lasting national commitment to support and engage military families.

Leadership 18 is a coalition of the some of the country’s largest and most well respected human development non-profit CEOs. Altogether, the 22 member organization serves more than 87 million people annually and has more than 5.5 million staff and volunteers.  The coalition represents long established charities, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits focusing on social and health issues supporting and promoting the safety, health, well-being, social and economic development of individuals and families.

Leadership 18 attendees included: Peter Goldberg, Alliance for Children and Families; Gail Mc Govern, American Red Cross; Roxanne Spillett, Boys and Girls Club of America; Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities USA; Kathy Cloninger, Girl Scouts of the USA; Judy Vredenburgh, Girls Incorporated; Jim Gibbons, Goodwill Industries International; Jill Schumann, Lutheran Services in America; Dr. David Shern, Mental Health America; Stephen Bennett, United Cerebral Palsy; Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide; Charles Gould, Volunteers of America; Neil Nicoll, YMCA of the USA; and Lorraine Cole, YWCA USA.

Earlier this month during a speech at a summit hosted by the National Military Family Association, the First Lady challenged every sector of American society to mobilize and take action to support and engage military families today and for decades to come. During the May 12 speech the First Lady said, “One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but we need 100 percent of Americans to support them and their families.  This has to be all hands on deck.”   The hope is that events like this one build a coalition to make this a reality.

Trooper Sanders is Deputy Director of Policy to the First Lady

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Filed under Dr. Jill Biden, Families, First Lady Michelle Obama, Military, Uncategorized, Women in the Military

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Presidential Directive on Military Families

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks to the National Military Family Association Military Child Summit at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. May 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama today announced that President Obama has directed the National Security Staff to lead a new 90-day review to develop a coordinated Federal government-wide approach to supporting and engaging military families.  Building on work and expertise by the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, the review will involve nearly twenty federal agencies as well as the White House Domestic Policy and National Economic Councils and the Offices of the Vice President, the First Lady, and Dr. Biden.

Specifically, the review will:

  • Set strategic military family priorities for the next ten years and identify key military family concerns and challenges;
  • Review a cross section of public and private programs to identify the most promising ideas and programs that positively support military families;
  • Develop options for departments to integrate military family matters into their strategic and budgetary priorities;
  • Examine opportunities for Federal policies and programs to stimulate new and support existing state and local efforts achieving military family readiness goals and meeting military family priorities;
  • Identify opportunities to leverage the skills and experience of military family members in national and community life; and
  • Strengthen existing feedback mechanisms for military families to voice their concerns and views on the effectiveness and future direction of relevant Federal programs and policies.

The review builds on the Obama administration’s efforts to forge an enduring national commitment to support and engage military families.  These combined national efforts will help ensure that:

  • The United States military continues to recruit and retain the highest-caliber volunteers contributing to the Nation’s security;
  • Service members can have strong family lives while maintaining the highest state of readiness and focus on their military responsibilities;
  • Civilian family members can fulfill their own potential while supporting service members; and
  • The general population better understands military families and seeks more opportunities to support 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,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “This government wide review will bring together the resources of the federal government, identify new opportunities across the public and private sectors, and lay the foundation for a coordinated approach to supporting and engaging military families for years to come.”

The First Lady made the announcement during an address to the National Military Family Association’s summit – When Parents Deploy:  Understanding the Experiences of Military Children and Spouses.  Mrs. Obama addressed the state of America’s military families today, outlined a vision of the nation supporting them over the long-term, and how, as a country, all segments of society can work together to turn that vision into a reality.  The First Lady, along with Dr. Jill Biden, uses their platform to support military families by:

  • Championing a national call to action that both addresses the unique challenges facing military families and recognizes and taps their skills, strength and commitment to service;
  • Building stronger civilian-military community ties; and
  • Engaging and highlighting the service and sacrifice of military families to ensure their voices are heard inside the administration.

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with National Military Family Association Board Chair Mary Scott after speaking at the National Military Family Association Military Child Summit at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., May 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Remarks by the First Lady at National Military Family Association Summit

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Filed under Change, Children, Families, First Lady Michelle Obama, Military, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized