News

First Lady Honors Military Kids at White House Event

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2014 - First Lady Michelle Obama and an all-star cast hosted military children at the White House today for a workshop in advance of the taping of a concert for the PBS "In Performance at the White House" series.

Country legend Willy Nelson, rapper Common, Navy vet and songwriter Ted Peterson and Army Sgt. Christiana Ball, a singer who won the Army's Rising Star competition, joined the first lady in the East Room. Robert Santelli, the executive director of the Grammy Museum, moderated the discussion. 

 

"During this workshop, we're going to be talking about music in our national life -- how it can move us and inspire us, and bring us together," the first lady said. 

*Military Kids' Contributions* 

During her introduction, Obama highlighted the contributions of military children -- many of whom were in the audience -- and the sacrifices they willingly make. The high school students in the audience came from Bel Air, Maryland, and from Quantico and Alexandria in Virginia. Many of the students are in military families. 

Everyone in America should know the stories of military families, the first lady said. "A lot of folks don't understand what it is like to grow up in a military family," she said. "They might not know there are more than 2 million military kids across this country, or that every school district in America has military-connected children and youth." 

Americans probably don't know that military children move, on average, six to nine times by the time they finish high school, and each move means a new house, school and friends and sometimes even a new country, she said. 

And in the midst of all that turmoil, "many of you might be dealing with a mom or dad who is deployed overseas, maybe for the fourth or fifth time," she said. "That means they are missing a lot of birthdays and practices and plays and stuff that many civilian families take for granted." 

*Dealing With Absence* 

These absences often mean the military children have to shoulder greater responsibilities than their civilian counterparts. "You have to be that 'rock' for your younger siblings, or pick up extra chores, or just balance the emotions that are going on in your family," the first lady said. 

These changes make military kids the most resilient in America, Obama said. "You're exposed to so many different people and cultures, and you're learning how to adapt," she said. "You have a broader view of the nation and the world. So, many of you will be the next leaders because of these experiences. 

"And that's what I want to make sure you all know," she continued. "As tough as it is, this stuff makes you stronger and more resilient, and it's going to make you successful. So it's a badge of honor. And that's why you all are heroes to me and to my husband -- because of what you all do." 

The first lady said service members couldn't serve the nation without the cooperation and sacrifices of their families. "And for that, we are grateful," she said. 

The military children were invited as part of the ongoing "Joining Forces" initiative that Obama champions with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. The initiative seeks to mobilize support among the American people for military families and veterans. 

 *Related Sites:*

Joining Forces [ http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces?source=GovDelivery ]

Special Report: Military Family Support [ http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2012/0212_familysupport/?source=GovDelivery ]

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