Michelle Obama to iVillage: My New Plan to Support Military Families

In a personal letter exclusive to iVillage, the First Lady explains why we need to serve our nation's heroes.

This week, Jill Biden and I are launching an unprecedented national campaign to support and honor our incredible military families. We call it Joining Forces. It’s about all of us working together to give back to these extraordinary military families who sacrifice so much every day so that we can live in freedom and security.

For me, this mission is rooted in some conversations I had a few years ago. I was speaking with women across the country and discussing our shared concerns around balancing work and family, but again and again, one group’s stories stood out to me. They were the stories of our military spouses -- mainly women, living all across the country. They were stories of strength and sacrifice, resilience and grace.

These women constantly balance work and family along with everything that comes along with having a spouse who serves in the military -- the long deployments, the multiple transfers, and many times doing the work of two parents at once. Yet these spouses and their children proudly step forward each and every day to serve this country in their own special way.

And Dr. Biden and I have made it our mission to make sure that our whole nation supports them -- and that’s why we’re "joining forces." Joining Forces is a challenge to all of us not simply to say “thank you” to our military families, but to mobilize and take action -- to make a real commitment to support and engage these families.

Joining Forces builds on the insights from spouses of the joint chiefs and senior enlisted advisors and tireless advocates. It takes cues from the extraordinary leadership of the President, the Vice President, and this administration, which has made military families a priority all across the federal government… even as we recognize that this can’t be the work of government alone.

And Joining Forces is about the responsibility that we have to each other, as Americans. It is about the fact that one percent of Americans may be fighting for this country, but we need 100 percent of Americans to support them and their families.

Joining Forces focuses on the things our military families have told us they care about most -- employment, education, and wellness, including mental health. We want Americans to realize that every community is a military community with families we can support -- and we all have a role to play in showing our appreciation. We’re thrilled that businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals ranging from NASCAR, Walmart and Sears, to the American Heart Association, the PTA and Sesame Street have gotten involved already.

But we know we have much work to do, and we want to ask you for your help as well. If you need ideas, just visit us at JoiningForces.gov, where Americans can come together, connect and find out how each of us can take action, often right in our own communities.

This is an effort that will take all of us, but we know that if we all work together -- if we all join forces -- then we can serve these heroes as well as they have served us.

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