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First Lady Visits Service Members, Stresses Importance of Support System

michelleGreeting more than 3,500 service members, civilians and their families at Camp Pendleton, Calif., first lady Michelle Obama on Monday spoke about the necessity of a support system for those serving in the military and their family members.

Obama told the crowd the reasons for her visit was to help the rest of the country better understand and appreciate the work of the service members, to ensure their voices are heard in Washington, and to make sure their needs are met.

Emphasizing the need for a support system for service members and their families at every stage of their lives, Obama said this effort needs a national commitment, and no one can sit on the sidelines.

“One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but 100 percent of Americans need to be supporting you in that fight,” she said.

Speaking about how her husband has ordered a government-wide review urging every department to make supporting the families of service members a high priority, Obama said it will be an effort that will lay the foundation for a coordinated government approach for years to come.

Obama said her husband’s administration plans to ensure that military families receive the support and benefits they need. The administration has increased funds for military housing, child care, counseling and career development for spouses, she noted, and has extended the Family Medical Leave Act to more military families and caregivers.

While progress is being made, much work remains to be done, Obama acknowledged. She lauded the Department of Defense for launching the Military Family Life Project, a study that will assess quality of life among service members and spouses. Obama said she has been urging military spouses to participate if selected because “the more we know about your priorities, the more we can do to meet them,” she said.

Obama spent the day touring the base’s new state-of-the-art Wounded Warrior Barracks that opened earlier this year. She also met privately with service members and their families to learn more about their particular needs and concerns.

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