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Does Michelle Obama support the troops?

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By Rebekah Sanderlin

Very few people relate to the agony of sending a loved one into harm's way, knowing that there are people out there who want to kill him. Very few people know the exhaustion of raising your children alone in a town far from the help of family and friends. These last few years, we military spouses resigned ourselves to the knowledge that only other military spouses understand those emotions, emotions that are now far too familiar for us. And then, out of nowhere, Michelle Obama reached out to us during the presidential campaign. She, the most captivating first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy, lent us her voice.

She said that she had a newfound sympathy for military spouses because, like so many of us, she had hugged her husband goodbye knowing that there were people out there who wanted him dead. She said that, like us, she had spent lonely nights raising her daughters, comforted only by the knowledge that her sacrifice was for something bigger than herself. She, like many of us, quit her career so that her husband could pursue an all-consuming calling. She got us. More importantly, she told us - and the nation - so.

In a post on his The Best Defense blog for Foreign Policy magazine a few weeks ago, Tom Ricks criticized Mrs. Obama for being more interested in raising vegetables than in helping soldiers' wives. He based this assertion on Mrs. Obama's pledge during the campaign to help military families and he said that she has not made good on her promises. I beg to differ.

Since the election, the Obamas have strongly reminded the nation that the war continues, families still suffer and service members are leaving on their sixth - or more - deployments. Mrs. Obama has visited my Army post, Fort Bragg, and met with military wives whose husbands wear a variety of ranks. President Obama made the Fort Bragg area the second stop for his nationwide Fatherhood Forums initiative, a fascinating and necessary project to explore how to strengthen the role of fathers in troubled settings. I attended both of these events. My husband, our children and I were also among the military families invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll this year. And we didn't even vote for President Obama.

In fact, I was so adamantly opposed to Obama during the campaign that, with my husband deployed on his third tour in Afghanistan, I waited in a very long line to attend a John McCain rally. I even breastfed my then-seven-week-old daughter during the rally so that I wouldn't lose my spot in the front row. A picture of my precious baby girl (rest assured, it was taken well after the feeding was over!) wearing my friend's "Drill, Baby, Drill" pin hit the AP wires and appeared in newspapers around the world the following day. That's how much I opposed Obama - I let my daughter be the poster baby for the other side. But considering that I didn't want the Obamas in the White House, I have to say that since moving in, they have each repeatedly stuck their necks out to make my life easier.

My only suggestion for President and Mrs. Obama now is that they continue to lend their powerful voices to the military community and call on the rest of the country, in a way that their predecessors never did, to get involved in the war effort. I hope that the Obamas will draw on their past experiences to create new ways for Americans to show real, material support for service members and their families. Because that, more than any yellow ribbons or benefit programs, is what it will take to end this culture of War and War-Nots and to reunite a badly fractured nation.

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of two, a freelance writer and a member of Blue Star Families who lives in Fayetteville, NC. She writes a blog about military family life called "Operation Marriage" for The Fayetteville Observer.

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By Rebekah Sanderlin  |  May 17, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
 | Tags: Michelle Obama  
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Comments

Unless Mrs. Obama is gardening 24/7 I see no reason why she can't tackle projects when she is not out in the garden.
Would this statement have been made about anyone else? Here in Lawrence, Kansas we have many community gardens. How many people driving by are thinking, look at those people out in the garden, I bet they don't care about the families of soldiers?
Probably not many.

Posted by: leslieswearingen | May 17, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

This monkey-faced, wide-load, anti-American socialist loves her food.........

She's as common as that slimey baby daddy.

Posted by: joesmithdefend | May 17, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Does Michelle Obama support the troops?...uh, no. And neither does her America wrecking-machine of a husband.

Posted by: NO-bama | May 17, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

to joesmithdefend...you're way out in left field buddy and exceptionally inappropriate.

To the issue, I appreciate Mrs. Obama's focus on our familys' issues, however, I've not seen much more than talk. To date, her comments have not been translated by her huband's administration into actual results.

In fact, I have to say, talk about caring about military families has always been a good talking point by administrations. I hope this one eventually does more than the previous ones.

Posted by: zoomie95 | May 17, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Rebecca, thanks for your article. As a military spouse of an OIF wounded warrior, I feel what you are talking about. And one of the previous comments is....so inappropriate. I will never speak prejudiciously about our president or the first lady, no matter if I voted for them or not.

Posted by: pamsegg | May 17, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

What has she done except talk?
She delivered a few of the toys (mind you, not all of the toys) donated for Toys for Tots.
She has attended luncheons.
What else?

Posted by: newsbird | May 17, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

"She said that she had a newfound sympathy for military spouses because, like so many of us, she had hugged her husband goodbye knowing that there were people out there who wanted him dead. She said that, like us, she had spent lonely nights raising her daughters, comforted only by the knowledge that her sacrifice was for something bigger than herself. She, like many of us, quit her career so that her husband could pursue an all-consuming calling. She got us. More importantly, she told us - and the nation - so."
PLEASE spare us this diatribe Rebekah, she has NO new found respect, quit her job, oh to make $5 MILLION in her first year as FLOTUS. Spare us your koolaid! My husband is on his 24th year of Active Duty and you can't sell me this lie. And because she told you so makes you believe her. I read your column in the Fayetteville paper and I really don't buy you voted for McCant...you might want your friends to think so!

Posted by: hharrison91 | May 18, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"She said that she had a newfound sympathy for military spouses because, like so many of us, she had hugged her husband goodbye knowing that there were people out there who wanted him dead. She said that, like us, she had spent lonely nights raising her daughters, comforted only by the knowledge that her sacrifice was for something bigger than herself. She, like many of us, quit her career so that her husband could pursue an all-consuming calling. She got us. More importantly, she told us - and the nation - so."
PLEASE spare us this diatribe Rebekah, she has NO new found respect, quit her job, oh to make $5 MILLION in her first year as FLOTUS. Spare us your koolaid! My husband is on his 24th year of Active Duty and you can't sell me this lie. And because she told you so makes you believe her. I read your column in the Fayetteville paper and I really don't buy you voted for McCant...you might want your friends to think so!

Posted by: hharrison91 | May 18, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

"She said that she had a newfound sympathy for military spouses because, like so many of us, she had hugged her husband goodbye knowing that there were people out there who wanted him dead. She said that, like us, she had spent lonely nights raising her daughters, comforted only by the knowledge that her sacrifice was for something bigger than herself. She, like many of us, quit her career so that her husband could pursue an all-consuming calling. She got us. More importantly, she told us - and the nation - so."
PLEASE spare us this diatribe Rebekah, she has NO new found respect, quit her job, oh to make $5 MILLION in her first year as FLOTUS. Spare us your koolaid! My husband is on his 24th year of Active Duty and you can't sell me this lie. And because she told you so makes you believe her. I read your column in the Fayetteville paper and I really don't buy you voted for McCant...you might want your friends to think so!

Posted by: hharrison91 | May 18, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Rebekah Sanderlin you are one brave lady. God bless you, your husband for serving our great country and your family. It takes a lot to speak the truth. President Obama and the First Lady are indeed patriotic Americans. I believe that President Obama is well aware of the sacrifices and stresses that American military families go through when their husband or wife is serving overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan. This administration takes it very seriously that American military service members and their families receive all the support that they deserve.

Posted by: brianhandel | May 19, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I am going to have to agree with those who believe it has been just talk. She says she relates to us in fear of her husband's life and the fact that he is often gone, but tell me this, how many of your guys, fellow MilSpouses, have personal body guards and Secret Service when they are doing their jobs? How many of them have been home for Christmas with you? How many of them have had time to jet-set to New York to see a play? Or better yet - how often do you get to vacation at all. I don't think she has ANY idea what she is talking about as far as being a MilSpouse and it offends me that she thinks she can relate. Just as I can not begin to imagine what it entails to be the president's wife - neither good nor bad - as I've never walked in those shoes, she can never ever imagine what we go through, as military spouses on a day to day basis. Also, as a widow, I can only WISH my husband had body guards with him, his own personal phone so I could have spoken with him before he died, a time for a vacation before he left, etc. etc. etc. What did I receive from the president after my husband gave his life for this country? A stamped letter. Like I said, she can't even begin to imagine this life style, as she has never stepped foot in these shoes.

Posted by: MrsPGoldStar | May 19, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

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