First Lady Announces New Federal Government Review Aimed at Supporting Military Families

By Jonathan Blakely

May 12, 2010 4:04pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: First Lady Michelle Obama announced today that President Obama has ordered a new 90-day government-wide review to identify new priorities and partnerships to support military families. Mrs. Obama announced this new effort during an address to the National Military Family Association. “As America asks more of these families, they have a right to expect more of us. This is our moral obligation,” Mrs. Obama said of the nation’s military families. “It’s also a matter of national security.  The readiness of our armed forces depends on the readiness of our military families. The First Lady was to be joined today by Dr. Jill Biden, a Blue Star mom herself who has worked with Mrs. Obama and on her own with military families. Dr. Biden was unable to attend because her son Beau sustained a mild stroke yesterday in Delaware and his currently in a hospital in Philadelphia. “As many of you heard, Jill couldn’t be here because her son Beau was admitted to the hospital yesterday, but he is expected to make a full recovery, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Biden family,” the first lady said. The military family review, which will be led by the administration’s national security staff, will involve nearly 20 federal agencies and the White House Domestic Policy and National Economic Councils and the offices of the vice president, first lady and Dr. Jill Biden. Mrs. Obama began by noting the tremendous efforts that many groups have made on behalf of military families over the last eight years. She also touted the steps her husband’s administration has taken including increasing pay and benefits; increasing funds for military housing, childcare and counseling, and expanding veterans’ health care and support to caretakers. But the first lady said that sometimes that is still not enough. “Even with all this generosity and goodwill, many families are still not receiving all the support that they need.  And that’s another hard reality,” she said. “And it’s the reason that we’re here today — because too many families still struggle to access the benefits and the assistance that they need.” Mrs. Obama said that while it would “pain most Americans to hear this,” there needs to be an honest discussion about the sentient that too many military families share that the rest of the nation doesn’t fully appreciate their challenges and sacrifices. “They are resilient, so they don’t always show it.  And they are proud, so they don’t always talk about it,” the first lady said. “So a lot of Americans don’t always see it.  But these are the hard realities that you know.” She said that one military mom appealed to her by letter and said: “Please don’t let Americans forget or ignore what we live with…We are at war.” The government-wide review aims do the following:
- Set strategic priorities for the next 10 years and identify key concerns and challenges for military families
- Examine how federal policies and programs can be used to support existing state and local efforts to meet military family priorities
- Strengthen feedback mechanisms so the concerns of these families can be heard and handled effectively Mrs. Obama applauded the Pentagon for launching the “Military Family Life Project,” which will study more than 100,000 spouses and servicemembers to assess their quality of life and understand the challenges they face during deployments. She encouraged those who were selected to participate and make their voices heard. -Karen Travers

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