By Elaine Wilson
Jan. 27, 2011
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending a groundbreaking event for military families at the White House.
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, unveiled a new, whole-of-government approach to military family support, with agencies uniting to create new resources and support programs for military families worldwide. (Read all about this event here.) Dr. Biden was the first to speak and, in her brief remarks, she took the time to highlight a few military families.
“From our earliest times together, Michelle and I have had the privilege of meeting with military service members and their families all around the country — people and families like so many of you who are with us here today,” she said.
Dr. Biden cited Jessica Sanders as an example. She met Jessica at a deployment ceremony for members of the Delaware Army National Guard’s 126th Aviation Regiment, she said. Jessica’s fiancé, Army Capt. Mark Thomas, soon will deploy to Afghanistan where he and his unit will provide medical evacuations for troops, allies and Afghan civilians.
“Captain Thomas’s parents are here today, too,” she said. “Thank you for your service.”
Dr. Biden also pointed out Army Col. John Norris and his wife, Sandra, who also was there for the White House event. Dr. Biden met the colonel during her trip to Iraq last summer to visit with troops, and has since become acquainted with his wife.
“Sandra has volunteered thousands of hours of her time and expertise over the past 20 years –- leading family readiness groups and supporting other military families as an advisor and a friend — all while raising two sons and coping with John’s 42 months in combat,” Dr. Biden said.
“Each of you here today brings your own story of service, strength and sacrifice — just like the many other military families we have been fortunate enough to meet,” she added.
Sandra said she was honored to be included in the landmark event for military families.
“As a military spouse and a 20-year family readiness volunteer, today’s announcement warms my heart and gives me great joy to know that the quality of life for military family members is a priority for the president and the nation,” she wrote in an e-mail. “This is a revolutionary approach to caring for military families that will last generations.”
She also praised Dr. Biden’s ongoing efforts on behalf of military families. “Dr. Biden’s work and effort in support of soldiers and their families was clearly evident during both her visit to Iraq and today’s commitment,” she wrote.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. Did you watch or attend the event? What were your impressions?