(WASHINGTON) — With the war in Iraq over and U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, first lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to support America’s servicemen and women returning from a decade of conflict.
ABC’s Nightline was granted wide-ranging access to Mrs. Obama, who spoke candidly about her passion to “make it right” for the nation’s military families.
“We have to rally around for these families. We have to be that safety net for them because, they’re leaving to serve us. They’re fighting for the rights and freedoms of all of us. And that’s what’s moved me about this effort,” the first lady told Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden in an interview at the White House.
Mrs. Obama admitted that, like most Americans, she had little personal connection to the sacrifices of the military community.
“My connection to military life was pretty tangential,” she said. “Most Americans like me, they just don’t have a clear idea of the sacrifice these men and women and their families make.”
Citing the hardships of multiple deployments and frequent family moves, the first lady said that she was “floored by the stories that I heard.”
“I thought, well if I don’t know about this, I’m educated and consider myself pretty well informed about a lot of issues, [and I] didn’t know these stories,” she said.
So in April 2011, the first lady and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, decided to act, forming “Joining Forces,” to bring attention to the unique needs and strengths of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.
As the nation continues to recover from the recession, the initiative works to connect servicemen and women, veterans and military spouses with the resources and training they need to find jobs.
“I won’t be satisfied — nor will my husband — until every single veteran and military spouse who wants a job has one. All of you deserve nothing less. Nothing less,” Mrs. Obama said.
Watch Cynthia McFadden’s interview with Michelle Obama in a three-part series, with Part Two airing Tuesday night on Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET
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