First lady Michelle Obama says she is distressed by the plight of many military families who are struggling to keep their heads above the poverty line while the soldier in the family is in harm's way in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Michelle Obama opened up to Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" in her first television interview since she became first lady.
Watch more of Robin Roberts' interview with first lady Michelle Obama on "World News With Charles Gibson" at 6:30 p.m. ET and "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET
During the interview, the first lady talked about everything from her husband's handling of the presidency to what's been broken in the White House since the Obama's moved in.
But she was at her most emotional in talking about the families of soldiers and their financial battles while a parent is deployed to battle al Qaeda or the Taliban.
"It hurts. It hurts," the first lady said of hearing about military families on food stamps. "These are people who are willing to send their loved ones off to, perhaps, give their lives -- the ultimate sacrifice. But yet, they're living back at home on food stamps. It's not right, and it's not where we should be as a nation."
To highlight that concern, Mrs. Obama made her first trip outside Washington as first lady Thursday to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she visited with military families. It was an emotional meeting that clearly moved her.
"Our soldiers and their families have done their duty. They do it without complaint. And we as a grateful nation must do ours and do everything in our power to honor them by supporting them," she said at the Fort Bragg Community Center.
During her visit to Fort Bragg, the first lady read "The Cat in the Hat" to a dozen preschoolers at the Prager Child Development Center, and the folks at Fort Bragg were touched by her performance.
"It was like she was reading to her children," said Mattie White, a lead education technician at Fort Bragg.
While reading "The Cat in the Hat," the first lady told the children she had two young daughters, and one tyke chimed in "I know Sasha."
Her concern for military families is an agenda issue that began during the presidential campaign, and one that she vowed she would continue to work on from the East Wing of the White House.
The Fort Bragg visit is a setting that the first lady seems comfortable in -- it combines her top policy issue and the qualities of the "mom-in-chief" she aims to be.
And any mention of the Obama daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, is an emotional touchstone for Mrs. Obama and, she suggests, for many in the country.
"You know, I just think, 'How sweet.' That's the power of kids connecting with other kids," the first lady said after the Fort Bragg child shouted out Sasha's name. "I think that that's, you know, been wonderful for the nation to have two little kids in the White House that they connect to."
Besides the financial woes of military families, the first lady said she is aware of how many American families are struggling during the economic recession. But she remains confident in her husband and the nation.
"I wouldn't want anybody but Barack Obama to be working at this time, because he is a focused, clear-thinking, rational man -- and that's what we need right now," she said. "I'm coming off of a boost of understanding all that our country is made of, the values, the men, the women, people who are looking for the silver lining, even in tough times."