Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The First Lady and Dr. Biden Make Camp Lejeune Their First Stop in the Joining Forces Initiative

The First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden have started an initiative called Joining Forces.  According to, "Joining Forces is a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of our society to give service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned."  "1% of Americans may be fighting our wars, but we need 100% of Americans to be supporting our troops and their families. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden are asking Americans to get involved in any way they can."

Today the First Lady and Dr. Biden kicked off their Joining Forces Initiative at Camp Lejeune.  As soon as I heard that they were coming, I inquired about attending and found out I would be able to.  I met a couple of other people from H and HS at Goettge Field House and was met by Secret Service who informed me that all the floor seats were filled and I would have to go upstairs.  I was disappointed that I didn't have a better seat but was still excited that I was there!  I was disappointed that every seat in the field house was not filled.  I had heard many people make comments that they were invited to attend but were not interested.  I just don't understand that.  This was The First Lady of the United States coming to Camp Lejeune to speak to us.  I considered it an honor to be able to see her and hear her speak and I would have felt that way even if I had not been a supporter of President Obama.  I was never a fan of George W. Bush but had Laura Bush been coming to Camp Lejeune, I would have loved to have seen her and heard her speak.  I would have considered it an honor to do so as she was the First Lady at that time.  Anyway, I just don't understand that closed minded way of thinking.  

But getting back to the topic, we had to get there early and get our seats and just sit there for about 2 hours.  It got boring but was fun to people watch.  When it finally did start, General Jensen introduced North Carolina's first First Gentleman, Robert "Bob" Eaves and then Senator Kay Hagan who both spoke.  Then General Jensen introduced Dr. Biden who began her appearance with a hearty "Oooh Rah"!  And of course, last but not least was the First Lady, Michelle Obama.  

I think because of the recent budget problems and the possibility that the military might not have gotten paid, was foremost in every one's thoughts but that is not why she was here to speak.  She was here to kick off her Joining Forces initiative and this trip was scheduled well in advance of the budget problems taking place.  You can read all about Joining Forces here.  So many people complain that the President and First Lady aren't doing anything for our military but she is definitely trying to do something good here.  So no matter your political ideologies, Joining Forces is a non-partisan issue.  Through Joining Forces, she is encouraging communities everywhere to step up and take care of our military families.   And that my friends, is a good thing.

This is in front of the field house showing the barrier that was set up for this event.

General Jensen
General Jensen introducing Dr. Biden

Cameramen were everywhere!
After she spoke, those people on the floor had the opportunity to move forward to try and see and speak with the First Lady.

Some parents and their children were chosen to sit on the stage behind the speakers. Afterwards both Dr. Biden and Michelle Obama spoke to each one of the children.  This is a friend of mine who is on the school board which was how she got asked to sit on the stage.  Maybe I should serve on the school board next year!

Here are two newspaper articles that were in The Globe and the Rotovue:

Joining Forces campaign first stop: Camp Lejeune
 by Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman 
The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, visited the service members and their families Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, to kick-off their Joining Forces campaign, at the Goettge Memorial Field House, aboard the base, April 13.
The Joining Forces campaign is a national initiative that gets all sectors of society involved in providing service members and their families the opportunities they deserve.
According to the campaign's website, Obama and Biden's drive comes from the simple fact that service members represent only one percent of the nation's population. However, service members take on the responsibility to protect and serve the entire nation under any circumstances, such as missing birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and so many of the daily moments they enjoy with their loved ones.
"You go about your business every day, lifting up your communities, volunteering at your schools, lending a hand to your neighbors," said Biden. "You do it all while carrying a heavier burden than most folks can imagine. You are truly remarkable."
Biden, whose son is a soldier in the Delaware National Guard, added that she and the first lady were impressed at the cohesion between the base and the community, which is one of the reasons why Camp Lejeune was their first stop on the Joining Forces campaign.
"The people in the surrounding Camp Lejeune community who are supporting our troops and their families are showing all Americans there are countless ways to help, some large and many small, but all are important," said Biden. "I can tell you, from personal experience, they all appreciate it. That's why the first lady and I are here today, because we need all Americans to support our military families the way you do it here."
Obama opened her speech by highlighting some of the sacrifices that military families go through. All the while, these families keep an unbroken level of support and love for their troops.
"While all of this is enough to fill any family's plate, yours is also full of so much more," said Obama. "It includes everything that comes with having a family member in the military and America needs to know."
Obama added that most Americans are unaware that with each move to a new base or station, it means yet another school for the military family's kids and a new job for the spouse.
"With each deployment, you run your household by yourself and you watch as your kids grow up just a little bit faster because mom or dad is away," said Obama. "And night after night, you pray that the next newscast or the next knock on the door will bring only good news. You do it all with such dignity, with such grace, that most Americans don't even realize what you're going through."
Obama said that military families are so good at functioning under these unique circumstances that it's almost like they're ‘wearing camouflage,' even though they aren't the ones on the battlefield.
"People can't always see your special brand of service because you don't wear it on your sleeve," said Obama.
Senator Kay Hagan, D. NC, and also the Armed Service Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities chairwoman, said that she, like Biden and Obama, honor the sacrifices that these military men and women do every day. One of the reasons the troops are able to sacrifice so readily is because of their families enduring support.
"Behind each and every (service member) is a family," said Hagan. "Whether it's a husband or wife, son or daughter, those are the ones that make it easy for these service members to do their jobs in our military. I think being here in North Carolina, where we are such a military friendly state, we need to have the rest of the nation look at us for the good job we're doing for our troops and increase it even more."
The senator added that her plan of action to aid in the campaign is to create a bill called the Hire a Hero Act, which provides more job opportunities for spouses and service members transitioning out of the military.
"We need to do anything that we can do to encourage business," said Hagan. "That's why I'm working on the bill, which will give small businesses up to a $4,000 in credit if they hire a veteran, (member of the) National Guard or a reservist. The other big factor is the education benefit. The spouses are very appreciative of that and using it to further their educations."
Capt. James Smolucha, Company H executive officer with the School of Infantry - East, said he had high hopes for Hagan's Hiring for Heroes program.
"I think it's going to be a great program," said Smolucha. "It gives (service members who get out) something to start with. When they do get out, they're going to need to continue to support their family, especially in today's economy."
Smolucha added that the importance he was privileged that the first lady, Biden and Senator Hagan took the time to come out and speak to Camp Lejeune's service members.
"I know they have a very busy schedule, so I think it shows a big commitment on their part to come down and actually talk to us," said Smolucha. "This is a very tight community, between the civilians and the military personnel. It's always great to hear praises, but for us, we're just doing our jobs."
Col. Grover Lewis, MCB Camp Lejeune director of public safety, enjoyed the visit as well and believes the Joining Forces campaign will provide a much brighter future for the area's military community.
"The visit was great," said Lewis. "It was a good experience for the Marines, sailors and their families. The initiatives that Mrs. Obama, Senator Hagan and Dr. Biden brought out will do volumes for this military community of ours."

First lady speaks to troops, families

First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden landed at New River Air Station, April 13, to kick off a two-day national tour. The initiative, "Joining Forces," aims at providing assistance to military families.
Service members and spouses rode buses from New River to Camp Lejeune’s Goettge Field House where they joined other members of the local military community to hear the visitors speak.
The first lady acknowledged the challenges military families face, from deployments and constant relocations to finding jobs.
"Military families are so good at keeping everything together that it is almost like you wear a camouflage, even though you’re not the ones on the battlefield," Obama said. "People can’t always see your special brand of service because you don’t wear it on your sleeve."
The campaign’s slogan calls for everyone to do something. Earlier this year, the White House recommended the implementation of more than 50 new programs to support troops and their families.
The efforts focus mainly on employment, education and mental health of those in the military community.
"Companies like Sears, K-Mart and Sam’s Club have promised us that if a military family member works in their store and has to move duty station they will do their best to have a job waiting for those spouses (at the new location)," Obama said.
Obama and Biden called Jacksonville a community to be modeled by the rest of the country.
"Our goal is for every community in America to feel the way that this one does," said Obama. "This is the model for every school to understand the challenges of being a military child. We want businesses to do something, to do anything to show their support."
Biden echoed the first lady as she fondly recalled her previous visit.
"When I visited two years ago, I was struck by what an amazing community you have here," said Biden. "That’s why the first lady and I are here today. We need all American families to support our troops the way that you are here today."
Multiple examples were given of the community’s commitment to the troops and their families.
Local student, Margaret Rochon, a recent recipient of the military child of the year award, volunteered more than 500 hours to get six national experts to come and talk to Onslow County teachers about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on military children.
"It shows the rest of the nation you don’t have to be the first lady of the United States; you don’t have to be a CEO; you don’t have to be a general to get involved in this effort," Obama said. "Because the truth is, showing gratitude to those who serve this nation, whether they are on the battlefield or right here, is something that every single one of us as an American can and should get behind."
One New River spouse is excited about what lies ahead for military families.
"I have a family of six so it’s always nice to know there are more programs being dedicated to military families," said Kurmaria Green, a spouse with VMX-22.
The family readiness officer for VMX-22, Anna-Marie Daley emphasized the importance of the day’s events.
"I think it’s important for our spouses to feel recognized and have their sacrifices acknowledged at all levels, all they way up to the White House," said Daley. "Having Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden here is a big part of that recognition."
Obama and Biden took time to meet with troops and their families before departing from New River. The tour continued with stops in Texas, Colorado and Ohio before they returned to the White House.

1 comment:

~Erin said...

Regardless of political affliations...I agree with you on respecting our President and First Lady. If I was invited I would attend....