WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama, joined by President Obama, Vice President Biden and his wife Jill kick off a stepped up campaign on Tuesday--to be called "Joining Forces"-- to focus more attention on the plight of military families, bringing back into the fold a commander Obama fired.
The White House announced in advance of the Tuesday event that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, removed by Obama as commander in Afghanistan after a Rolling Stone magazine profile carried unflattering quotes from officers serving under him, will lead a three-member "Joining Forces" advisory panel.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said McChystal and his wife will attend the White House event. The kick-off comes as Obama has put potentially more strains on military families, committing U.S. military resources to Libya in addition to carrying out wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
After the launch, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden head off to Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas--the first three swing states critical to the Obama 2012 re-election bid--for a media blitz on Wednesday and Thursday bolstered by a cast of celebrities: Jessica Simpson, Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers; home arts guru Martha Stewart; Sesame Street's Elmo and the cast of Discovery Channel's Mythbusters.
"Joining Forces" will be a major public relations, branding and policy initiative for Mrs. Obama, much as is her anti-childhood obesity campaign, "Let's Move" which is a combination public-private enterprise.
While "Let's Move" was an outgrowth of Mrs. Obama's White House garden on the South Lawn, Mrs. Obama's interested in military families started during the 2008 presidential campaign. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden have spoken out on the problems facing the military while the nation is at war and visited military installations these past two years; "Joining Forces" takes it to another level.
The "Joining Forces" initiative has been in the works for months, and is an outgrowth of a Jan. 24 presidential report detailing 50 commitments by federal agencies to help military families.
Mrs. Obama, at a Jan. 24, 2011 White House event with Obama to unveil the report, said, "back in May, I announced that my husband had directed his Cabinet to identify new priorities and new partnerships to support our military families. So today, they have come back with 50 -- 50 specific commitments that aim to keep improving your quality of life.
On Wednesday Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden visit the giant Marine base, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, an Army medical center in San Antonio, and end up at a Colorado Rockies vs. Mets game in Denver with military families in the stands. On Thursday, the women hit Colorado Springs--near the campus of the the U.S. Air Force Academy--and then to Columbus, Ohio, for two events.
Click below for more information about the Obama/Biden "Joining Forces" blitz:
Below, from the White House....
National Tour Schedule - please note, all times are listed in local time.
Wednesday, April 13th, 9:30 AM - Military Community Event at Camp Lejeune. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will begin the tour by speaking to 3,000 Marines, soldiers, sailors, and military family members from Camp Lejeune, one of the country's largest Marine Corps bases. They will be joined at this event by the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos and Commanding General Marine Corps Installations East Major General Carl Jenson. This event is OPEN press, please visit this link to RSVP by Monday, April 11th at 5:00 PM EST.
Wednesday, April 13th, 10:15 AM - Visit to Operation Shower at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. OPERATION SHOWER is a non-profit organization that honors the sacrifices military families make by hosting unit-wide baby showers for expecting military families in a deployment or high stress situation. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will join in the celebration hosted for 40 pregnant women whose husbands are service members. They will bring gifts donated through a special White House Operation Shower donation drive. Special guest Martha Stewart will join this shower and teach the art of preserving memories through scrapbooking for these military mothers. Due to space constraints, this event will be POOLED press.
Wednesday, April 13th, 4:30 PM - Visit to the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, Texas. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will visit with service members and families and tour the facility, located steps away from the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) and next to the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center. Prior to the visit to the Center, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will meet privately with wounded warriors and families at BAMC. The Warrior and Family Support Center, built with private donations and run by volunteers from the surrounding community, helps care for family members over a long period of time while they care for a wounded warrior. This Center is a shining example of how communities can step up for military members and their families. Due to space constraints, this event will be POOLED press.
Wednesday, April 13th, 7:50 PM - Military Families Event at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Colorado Rockies and Coors Field will throw open their doors to military families from across Colorado for a special viewing of the Rockies vs. Mets game on jumbo screens and fun activities throughout the stadium. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will speak to the families and participate in activities with them. Special guests include entertainer and long time military supporter Jessica Simpson who will perform for the families and the Air force Academy Baseball Team who will practice with the military children. This event is OPEN press, please visit this link to RSVP by Monday, April 11th at 5:00 PM EST.
Thursday, April 14th, 10:15 AM - Visit to the National Math and Science Competition in Colorado Springs. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden, in conjunction with the National Math and Science Initiative, will host a science competition where military parents will challenge the students at a school primarily serving military families. This event will highlight the commitment to produce awareness about the unique challenges military children face and the need for advanced placement courses in math and science at schools serving military children. Joining in this challenge of kids versus parents will be special guest participants from the Discovery Channel program MythBusters. This event will be held at Fountain-Fort Carson High School where military children make up almost half of the student body. This event is OPEN press, please visit this link to RSVP by Tuesday, April 12th at 5:00 PM EST.
Thursday, April 14th, 4:45 PM - Employment event in Columbus, Ohio. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will join Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden for this event to highlight how several major businesses have made commitments as part of this nationwide initiative to ensure transferability to military members and their spouses - when soldiers are transferred, spouses can now more easily retain their jobs at a participating facility in their new community. This event is OPEN press, please visit this link to RSVP by Tuesday, April 12th at 5:00 PM EST. Please note that this location will be made available on Tuesday, April 12th.
Thursday, April 14th, 6:15 PM - Community Event for Military Families in Columbus, Ohio. The USO and Sesame Street have collaborated with Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden to host this concert-style event honoring National Guard members and their families. Local organizations doing great work in their communities who need volunteers or donations to support military families will be recognized. The event will feature a performance from singer/producer Nick Jonas of the multi-platinum selling Jonas Brothers and Sesame Street Muppets including Elmo. Special guests include Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Craig R. McKinley.