Oprah and Obama. There aren’t two bigger names in the country. And yesterday, Oprah and First Lady Michelle Obama put the spotlight on military families and the epidemic of disconnection the average citizen has with the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Oprah hosted families, journalists and Mrs. Obama as part of her “wake up” call to the nation to recognize the challenges facing our military families. It was an overdue call for help because most military families won’t ask for it themselves.
Mrs. Obama told Oprah that military families’ shoulder the burden themselves. “They never ask for help,” Obama said. “You get it done when you’re in the military. That’s what you’re trained to do, that’s what you’re taught.”
Because most people don’t personally know a military family, they aren’t even aware of the issues they face or the support they need.
“It’s not that people won’t help. It’s just that we’re not aware of the stories,” she said.
The First Lady said she was astounded by some of the stories she heard when she began to meet military spouses during her husband’s run for the presidency.
“They don’t talk about the pressure deployments have on families,” she said. “These families need some help and support.”
She is right. These families struggle with big issues. Difficult, painful and often life-changing issues.
Military wives are left to shoulder the responsibilities of raising the kids and running the households while their husbands are deployed. The children have to sacrifice time with mom or dad for the greater good of the country. They go through birthdays, holidays, soccer games enduring the absence of one of the most important people in their lives. Not just once but through multiple deployments. And for some children, that person never returns from war.
Many military households have endured six more deployments.
For the men and women who do return, they are often plagued with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), debilitating injuries, feelings of isolation, financial struggles, marriage problems, depression and more. Maybe the war didn’t take their life but it changed their life forever.
Spouses, families and friends on bases across America have become ever vigilant of their warriors. Now, it’s time for neighbors and families in the cities and towns far from military bases to look after their heroes as well.
Want to get someone’s attention? Bring in Oprah and Obama. The First Lady said that she and Elizabeth Biden would be rolling out a huge initiative in March that will call on America to more effectively support our military families. If their names and their influence can’t do it, who can?
At Operation Homefront, we do the best we can. But the need extends beyond our reach…it takes all of us…every single American…to provide the support these deserving troops and their families need. If you haven’t already, find a way to help.
Go to our web site to find volunteer opportunities. Go to serve.gov, a site highlighted on Oprah with opportunities to help. Or go down the street to visit that military family to see if you can do anything. Just go. They have given their lives for our country, now it’s our turn to give back.