This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
When it comes to bully pulpits, it’s hard to beat the White House.
First ladies have a highly visible position from which to advocate for causes – think Lady Bird Johnson’s push for highway beautification and Laura Bush’s for literacy.
Michelle Obama is already leading a high-profile campaign against childhood obesity – a worthy cause given the fact that too many children are exhibiting weight-related health problems such as diabetes and clogged arteries that normally aren’t seen until later in life.
But now she and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, are taking on an equally significant campaign: military families. Their new Joining Forces initiative aims to create a nationwide support network of individuals, businesses, schools, and civic and religious organizations with a single goal: help military families handle their often stressful lives.
Much of the initiative’s focus has been on the job-related efforts of big corporations like Walmart and Sears, which have promised to hire service members and their spouses and to make it easy for employees to transfer jobs if they have to move. But individual action is also important, and volunteer opportunities to help active-duty military members, veterans and their families abound. (See box.)
Ideas range from being an activity leader with Operation: Military Kids in Puyallup to providing home respite for injured veterans’ caregivers. Individuals can make a point of interacting more closely with military families in their community: Offer to baby-sit or pet-sit, provide transportation or just lend a sympathetic ear.
Students who learn that children from a military family have transferred into their school could offer to show the newbies around and make their new home a friendlier place.
There’s been some suggestion that the Joining Forces initiative has a political motive, to build support for President Barack Obama’s re-election. Perhaps there is some element of that, but so what? Anything that brings attention to the challenges facing the nation’s military families is worth applauding.
After all, they’re the ones shouldering the full pressure of two wars and the multiple deployments that often go along with that. They deserve any attention the first and second ladies can send their way.
Go online to www.serve.gov to search for volunteer opportunities in your community. Another good site is uso.org. To find which local military units are partnered with your city, call Community Connections Program Coordinator Brendalyn Carpenter at 253-967-0154.