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First lady, Dr. Biden to launch military family awareness campaign

WASHINGTON -- Dr. Jill Biden and first lady Michelle Obama will campaign to raise awareness of military families, the vice president's wife told spouses of National Guard adjutants general Feb. 28.

"In the coming weeks, we are going to be launching a formal campaign," said Dr. Biden, who hosted the spouses for breakfast at the vice president's residence here.

"We're going to reach out to all Americans," she said. "Michelle and I are going to go on a tour around the country to create this mass-media awareness, so that the 99 percent of Americans who are not serving can now serve the one percent who are."

She and the first lady will travel the country encouraging Americans to join these efforts, she said.

"Over the last couple of years, Michelle and I have been traveling all around the country talking to families," she said. "We've brought our stories back to the White House, and now the president and the cabinet are going to act on it."

Dr. Biden, whose son Beau just returned from a year-long deployment to Iraq with the Delaware National Guard, has dedicated herself to bring awareness of "military families' strength and courage, as well as the challenges that they face," she said.

"I am a Blue Star mom," she said.

"I will always remember the mixture of pride and concern that I felt about (Beau's) deployment," Dr. Biden said. I feel like we're all family, all of us together. We share the same concerns, anxieties and sense of duty and pride that comes along with being military family."

With thousands of Citizen-Airmen and -Soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions of the world and almost half the nation's military strength residing in the National Guard and Reserve it is almost impossible to overstate the importance they both have, she said.

"In this era, when so much is being asked of the Guard and Reserve, you all have been a source of strength, relieving some of the burden of stress on loved ones left behind," Dr. Biden told the spouses.

Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise stop at the breakfast to share his feelings on how state senior leaders make a difference for families during deployments.

"Don't underestimate the impact that you all have," he said. "I watched the impact on Jill when our son was deployed."

Mr. Biden told the spouses about a prayer his wife received from Jane Vavala, wife of Delaware's adjutant general, Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, during Beau's deployment ceremony.

"I would walk in every morning into the kitchen, and I would see Jill mouthing this prayer," he said. "It's truly a personal gift of kindness."

Dr. Biden recalled that prayer and what she has done with it.

"When Jane sat beside me and handed me that prayer, that prayer meant so much to me, it was such a wonderful gesture of kindness," she said.

"When I meet families who are being deployed, I try to pass that along, that act of kindness, because I know as a military mom how much that meant to me."

Dr. Biden encouraged people to visit or contact her office and share how they're supporting those who serve.