Friday, April 01, 2011

April 12: First Lady, Dr. Biden Launch Military Family Support Initiative - UPDATED

April 12...First Lady, Dr. Biden will travel around US to raise awareness for new campaign on the scale of Let's Move!...
CLICK HERE for the post with links to all Joining Forces posts
*This post was UPDATED with new information on April 11

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will launch "Joining Forces," a national initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families on Tuesday, April 12th, the White House has announced. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the launch event, which will be livestreamed starting at noon ET. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden speaking about the initiative in February to a group of US Governors visiting the White House)

The new campaign will be close to the size and scale of Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity, according to White House aides. It builds on President Obama's directive, released in January, to establish a coordinated and comprehensive Federal approach to supporting military families, and working to reconnect military families with communities. Non-profits, entertainment entities and celebs will also be asked to support the campaign, in the same way they have provided support for the Let's Move! campaign.

The campaign "aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society" the White House noted in a statement.

"Just to give you a sense of what we hope to do...if you look at what we’ve accomplished with “Let’s Move” just in one short year, our goal is to take that same model and make the conversation about our military families at the top of mind of every single one of us in this country," Mrs. Obama told a group of US Governors visiting the White House in late February.

"We’re focusing on four main areas: Employment, education, wellness and public awareness," Mrs. Obama told the Governors.

The formal campaign follows two years of exhaustive work on military support issues by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden, but the actual launch has been delayed by more than a month; it was previously scheduled to be unveiled on March 1. In January, Mrs. Obama appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to discuss the approaching launch.

On April 10, White House aides announced that retired Army General Stanley A. McChrystal will lead a three-member advisory board for the initiative. Last year, the President dismissed McChrystal from his command in Afghanistan after an interview in Rolling Stone magazine appeared, containing unflattering quotes about the President. McChrystal, accompanied by his wife, will attend the White House kickoff event on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said on April 11. (McChrystal, above)

Travel for the campaign...
Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden's travel schedule for the initiative begins on April 13, the day after the official launch, with a two-day trip that includes stops at military bases and communities in North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, and Ohio (the full schedule is here). During seven different events, they'll be joined at various times by a slate of celebs, including singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers; cooking and home decor legend Martha Stewart; Sesame Street's Elmo and other Muppets; and the cast of Discovery Channel's Mythbusters.

The First Lady will also visit the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, on May 20, to give an address to the 2011 graduating class during the Cadets' Banquet. On June 3, Mrs. Obama will deliver the commencement speech to graduates of Quantico Middle High School in Virginia, located on the Marine Corps Base. The students' parents all serve on the Base.

Mrs. Obama commingled the Let's Move! campaign and military issues together in January, when she visited South Carolina's Fort Jackson, to get a look at how the Army deals with obesity-related health issues in new recruits.

*Reuters photo