First lady seeks help for military families

May 19, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) First lady Michelle Obama has asked religious leaders
to join her initiative to assist military families by increasing
programs to support veterans and the families of military members
deployed far from home.

"The faith community has been a strong bedrock for me as first
lady," she told religious and community organization leaders on
Wednesday (May 18). "So I would be remiss if I didn't bring this issue
to you as well, and ask for your support, your leadership, and your
guidance."

Obama, who launched her "Joining Forces" national initiative in
April, said many congregations are already involved but that more can be
done to include military families in a congregation's outreach plans.

"You don't necessarily have to be an expert in military family
issues to make a difference," she said. "You can build on what you
already do best."

The first lady cited youth ministries and career mentoring programs
as examples where congregations could help address the needs of families
of military members.

"I think this is an issue that we can all put our arms around,
regardless of our party affiliation, our religious affiliation," she
said. "We are all Americans, and these families need and deserve our
support."

Joining Obama on a conference call were leaders from Catholic,
Protestant, Jewish and Muslim organizations who work with military
families on counseling, sending care packages and assisting spouses left
at home with baby-sitting, snow shoveling or house repairs.