A wave of support for troops and their families is sweeping the nation through a campaign headed by first lady Michelle Obama and Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden. The campaign goes beyond mere goodwill. Amid an increase in troop suicides, it could alleviate some of the pressures faced by today’s military.
The current military system was not meant for the long-term wars the United States is currently involved in. “The all-volunteer force conceived in the 1970s was designed to train, prepare, and deploy for a major and quick conventional conflict,” but is facing “prolonged, persistent combat,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a Sept. 29, 2010, speech, the Pentagon’s American Forces Press Service (AFPS) reported.
Gates said this structure has likewise placed unintended pressures on troops “and especially their families,” as multiple deployments are leading to divorce and more stress on their children. Research amid the steady incline in troop suicides has shown family trouble to be among the most prominent factor in troop suicide cases.
The new “Joining Forces” campaign aims to “educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society,” to support U.S. troops, according to the official White House blog. The nationwide initiative will stretch across all sectors of society, from local communities, to business and government.
A new government website for Joining Forces, part of the White House website, lets users find ways to support troops in their communities, send messages of thanks, or share their stories. It states “One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but we need 100 percent 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.”
During the April 12 unveiling of the program, Michelle Obama said, “This campaign is about all of us, all of us joining together, as Americans, to give back to the extraordinary military families who serve and sacrifice so much, every day, so that we can live in freedom and security.”
“Jill and I truly believe that if enough people across this great country realize just how much our military families do for us, and if we look in our own lives to see what we can offer, then there is absolutely no limit to what we can do together to keep these families, and our country, strong,” she said.
The first stop in the campaign was a baby shower for a group of 40 expecting military moms. Obama and Biden were joined by Martha Stewart at the Camp Lejeune event where they brought gifts through a White House Operation Shower donation drive, according to a press release.
Their next stop will be the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, where community volunteers support the families of wounded troops. Obama and Biden will hold similar events on a nationwide tour throughout the week.