Entries in military families (9)


Michelle Obama on Her Passion to 'Make It Right' for Military Families

Hank Disselkamp/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With the war in Iraq over and U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, first lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to support America's servicemen and women returning from a decade of conflict.

ABC's Nightline was granted wide-ranging access to Mrs. Obama, who spoke candidly about her passion to "make it right" for the nation's military families.

"We have to rally around for these families.  We have to be that safety net for them because, they're leaving to serve us.  They're fighting for the rights and freedoms of all of us.  And that's what's moved me about this effort," the first lady told Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden in an interview at the White House.

Mrs. Obama admitted that, like most Americans, she had little personal connection to the sacrifices of the military community.

"My connection to military life was pretty tangential," she said.  "Most Americans like me, they just don't have a clear idea of the sacrifice these men and women and their families make."

Citing the hardships of multiple deployments and frequent family moves, the first lady said that she was "floored by the stories that I heard."

"I thought, well if I don't know about this, I'm educated and consider myself pretty well informed about a lot of issues, [and I] didn't know these stories," she said.

So in April 2011, the first lady and Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, decided to act, forming "Joining Forces," to bring attention to the unique needs and strengths of America's soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

As the nation continues to recover from the recession, the initiative works to connect servicemen and women, veterans and military spouses with the resources and training they need to find jobs.

"I won't be satisfied -- nor will my husband -- until every single veteran and military spouse who wants a job has one.  All of you deserve nothing less.  Nothing less," Mrs. Obama said.

Watch Cynthia McFadden's interview with Michelle Obama in a three-part series, with Part Two airing Tuesday night on Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Celebrates Early Father’s Day with BBQ Lunch

Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Celebrating an early Father’s Day, President Obama today made a surprise stop at Kenny’s BBQ on Capitol Hill. In a previously unannounced outing, the president had lunch with two active duty members of the military, both of whom are fathers, as well as two local barbers who are participating in an administration program promoting fatherhood.

The “Fatherhood Buzz” campaign is designed to “reach out to dads with positive information through barbers and barber shops as a part of the administration’s longstanding Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative,” according to the White House.

“The more information we’re getting out there to folks about how they could take responsibility for their kids, make sure that they’re in their child’s lives, help support their mother even if they’re not living with the mother, makes a huge difference,” the president told the men over heaping plates of barbecue.

Explaining his administration’s efforts to support families, the president said that children with involved fathers are “are less likely to do drugs… girls are less likely to get pregnant.”

“That message is something that we want to make sure gets out there,” he said.

The president delivered brief remarks to the press before diving into a platter of ribs, collard greens, black eyed peas and rice and a corn muffin.

“We’re going to eat in peace now,” Obama said as the cameras were escorted out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Honors Military Families at White House

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Earlier this week at the White House, first lady Michelle Obama honored military families and reflected on their sacrifice.

“I have spoken with so many military spouses who are raising their kids alone while their loved one is stationed overseas for months at a time. I have heard from so many wonderful military children who pick up extra chores, and just step up and keep their grades going while mom or dad is away,” she told military families  gathered at the White House  Wednesday, where the children viewed two Christmas trees decorated in honor of military families.

The first tree honors Gold Star Families—the immediate family members of service members who have died in a combat zone. Hanging on the tree were photos and messages from more than 800 Gold Star families. Michelle Obama read some of the notes aloud.

Gold Star families who visit the White House in the coming weeks can create a special ornament to hang on the tree, bearing the name of their loved ones.

The official White House Christmas tree, in the Blue Room, was decorated with cards collected from military children, service medals, patches, badges, ribbons and pine cones.

Michelle Obama also commented on the gap between civilians and the families of the less-than-1 percent of Americans who serve in the military.

“I also know that not every American hears these stories. Not every American knows what a Blue Star family is, or a Gold Star family is. We don’t all understand what it’s like to be in a military family,” she said, adding that “that’s one of the reasons why Jill and I started our Joining Forces initiative, because we wanted to rally all Americans to honor, recognize and support our military families. We wanted to make sure that never again would someone have to ask the question, what is a Gold Star family, and what does that sacrifice mean? We all should know.”

The Joining Forces initiative created by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden was designed to energize action from every sector of our society—individuals, businesses, nonprofits, philanthropy and faith-based institutions—to give service members, veterans and their families support. The initiative has mainly focused on public awareness, employment, education and wellness.

Visitors to the White House can also support and thank service members overseas by writing handwritten notes that will be sent to troops during the holidays.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Says Thanks to Military Families with White House BBQ

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- From the White House south balcony, draped in bunting of red, white and blue, President Obama and his wife Michelle kicked off the annual Fourth of July White House barbecue by saying thank you to more than 1,200 military personnel and their families.

“I cannot think of anybody I’d rather celebrate with than all of you: the men and women of our military and our extraordinary military families,” Obama said.

“After all that you do for our country every day, we wanted to give you guys a chance to get out of the uniform, relax a little bit and have some fun,” the president continued.

This is the third consecutive year that Obama has opened the annual South Lawn Fourth of July barbecue to military service members and their families.

The Fourth of July, Obama said, is not only a time to gather and celebrate but it’s also “a time for us to reflect on the meaning of America. … A nation that has lead revolutions in commerce, that sent a man to the moon, that lifted up the poor, that cured the sick, a nation that fought for democracy and served as a beacon of hope around the world.  But all this could only happen because of our founders central faith that through democracy and individual rights ordinary people have it within their means to forge a nation that is more just and more equal and more free.”

And the president promised the crowd that “as long as I have the privilege of serving as your Commander in Chief, I’m going to make sure that you have the support that you need in the field.  I’m going to make sure you get the care you deserve when you come home.  And, with the help of Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden, we will make sure that America takes care of your families.”

Obama was referring to the latest Internet project by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden called, a website designed to bring help to struggling military families.

“You’re the reason why America and our armed forces remain the greatest force for peace and security the world has ever known,” he said.  “This day is possible because of your service.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Lady Michelle Obama Makes Pitch to Help Military Families

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- First Lady Michelle Obama is using the 4th of July holiday to remind Americans to help out military families across the county.

In an email letter from her office, Mrs. Obama says that “when our troops are called to serve, their families serve right along with them” which means “missed holidays, bedtimes and ballet recitals. … it means pulling double-duty, doing the work of both parents, often while juggling a full-time job or trying to get an education.”

That’s why, she says, it’s important to get involved and help “take care of their families while they’re gone.”

To that end, she and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr Jill Biden, started a website at to help facilitate that help.  

The site allows people to send messages of support, lists links to service organizations, and sign up to do service hours on projects to help military families with everything from babysitting to home care.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Thanks Military Families

ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- In an emotional moment on Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama told a gathering of mothers, grandmothers and spouses of U.S. service members at the White House that she understands some of them may be sad this Mother’s Day because they are mourning a loved one.

“All we can do is hug you and tell you that we are thinking and praying and working for you all.”

Not all of the guests for “Military Spouse Appreciate Day” at the White House have lost a loved one in military service, some of the family members have loved ones currently serving in the military.

Mrs. Obama told the families that they were invited over to the White House for tea because she hoped the invite could serve as a very small way to say thank you.

“Every day you deal with things that most of us can only imagine,” the first lady said.  

“Even if you’re not the ones wearing the uniform, every single one of you is serving our country and every single one of you deserves our support.”  

The families enjoyed tea and snacks with Mrs. Obama as well as Dr. Jill Biden, who herself is a military mother and grandmother.

In her own remarks, Biden mentioned the military operation to kill Osama bin Laden.  “The historic action in Pakistan reminds Americans of the courage military family members demonstrate on a daily basis.”  She said the entire nation is proud of all the families.

“You are all heroes.”  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Defends Choice of McChrystal for Families Initiative

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- First lady Michelle Obama is defending her choice of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as co-chair of a commission to help military families.

“He is the best choice,” Mrs. Obama said Monday on ABC’s The View.

“We wanted to find someone that had the respect of the community --and he does -- and who understands the issues -- and he does.”

McChrystal’s appointment came under fire by Mary Tillman, who says McChrystal helped cover up the friendly fire death of her son, Pat, in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Army Mom Wants Gen. McChrystal Removed from White House Post

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama appointed retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal to co-chair a commission on military families this week, but according to perhaps the most prominent military family of the last decade, McChrystal is unfit for that duty.

Mary Tillman, mother of Pat Tillman, the former professional football player-turned-Army Ranger who was killed by friendly fire seven years ago, is angered by McChrystal’s appointment, telling ABC News he was part of the propaganda effort pushing the false tale that Tillman had been killed by the enemy, and keeping the truth from the world -- and their family.

“I was actually pretty shocked to hear it; I don't think it’s the appropriate choice,” Tillman told ABC News.  “Considering that we have plenty of evidence indicating that McChrystal was involved in the cover-up of Pat’s death...he's not the right person for that kind of a job.”

Tillman said the president's appointment of McChrystal "makes him look foolish, frankly."

She told ABC News that "someone who has a heartfelt desire to help families would not have been involved in the cover-up of a soldier’s death, especially one that they used to promote a war.”

McChrystal -- who declined comment to ABC News -- was the commander of special operations in Afghanistan when Tillman was killed in April 2004.  Soon after, McChrystal wrote his commanders an urgent memo that, "It is highly possible that Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire.”

Having heard President George W. Bush might speak publicly about Tillman, McChrystal wrote to his higher ups to make sure they knew the truth so as to “preclude any...public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death become public."

Tillman noted that McChrystal wrote "if this becomes public this could be an embarrasment to the administration.  He didnt say 'when' this becomes public, 'when' we tell the family.  So there was going to be an effort to cover this up."

At the same time McChrystal was sending that confidential memo, he was part of the propaganda effort pushing a false narrative about Tillman's death, the family charges.

He signed off on a Silver Star citation that is worded quite misleadingly, noting how “Corporal Tillman put himself in the line of devastating enemy fire” and in the next sentence referencing how Tillman, “(w)hile mortally wounded” demonstrated “audacious leadership and courageous example under fire...”

At no point does the Silver Star citation that McChrystal signed even hint that the mortal wounds came from American guns.

“I would do this differently if I had the chance again -- in retrospect they look contradictory, because we sent a silver star that was not well-written,” McChrystal testified before the Senate in 2009.  “And although I went through the process, I will tell you now I didn't review the citation well enough to capture -- or I didn't catch that if you read it you could imply that it was not friendly fire.”

The Pentagon Inspector General recommended disciplinary action against McChrystal, but the army ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing in 2007.

Mary Tillman said McChrystal let her family agonize on a national stage for years for never helping them find out the truth about their son's death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Says Military Families Need to Reconnect to Community

Photo Courtesy - The White House/Chuck Kennedy(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama will redouble efforts to shine a spotlight on the nation’s military families, in a campaign formally launching in March.

In an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show Thursday, Mrs. Obama says that it’s not that Americans won’t help military families; it’s just that they are not aware of the pressures of deployment on families. This is something that she hopes to remedy.

“We’re going to ask the country to get ourselves together and be a part of reconnecting these families to be a part of the broader community."

So often, Mrs. Obama says, people see a happy homecoming between military families on TV but do not see the other “ramifications” to the deployment that are not talked out.

“And these families need some help and support to get through it.”

On Monday, President Obama announced new initiatives to help support military families across the federal government and declared that they are now “upping their game” in support. Mrs. Obama said that there are a lot of simple things that people can do to help -- if you’re an accountant, helping a military family prepare their taxes for example, she said.

“A lot of these women can use a girl’s night out, a manicure, a pedicure, a break,” she said, “There are things we can do as a nation big and small.”

Mrs. Obama initially took up the issue of helping and highlighting military families during her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“Everywhere I went there were stories that were completely unfamiliar,” Mrs. Obama told Oprah in an interview taped last week, “and those were the stories of military women.”

The first lady said that in these families months go by where birthdays are missed, parents are struggling to raise kids alone and have to answer the questions for their children when mom and dad are coming home.

“Their stories took my breath away,” Mrs. Obama said, “and I vowed then that if my husband had the honor of serving our country that I would be that voice.”

The first lady said whenever she is feeling bad or sorry for herself she thinks of their courage and sacrifice.

“I suck it up because of these families,” the First Lady said, “Part of the challenge of getting the message out about military families is they never ask for help.  They never ask for help because you don't do that when you're in the military. You get it done. That's how you're trained. That's what you're taught.”

Mrs. Obama was in Columbia, South Carolina at Fort Jackson Thursday for a series of events that highlight the intersection of her Let’s Move! campaign and military readiness.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio