First Lady: Military family members are heroes too


First lady Michelle Obama was at Camp Pendleton Sunday, where she said military families are just as heroic as those in uniform.

As part of her advocacy campaign on behalf of military families, she met privately with service personnel and their loved ones at the USMC base in northern San Diego County and addressed about 1,000 Marines and their families

“You’re heroes just as much as our men and women in uniform — the spouses who stay behind, with all the pride of being a military wife or husband, but with also the fears and the anxiety that come when the person you love the most in the world is in harm’s way,” she said.

She added that she has met a lot of special people, like the pope, the queen of England and Beatle Paul McCartney, “but I have to tell you, sincerely, the most inspiring Americans I have ever met are those in uniform.”

The first lady has issued a “national call to action” to address the “unique challenges” facing military families, to “recognize and tap their skills, strength and commitment to service,” to ensure that “their voices are heard inside the administration” and to build stronger civilian-military community ties, according to a White House statement.

She noted that Camp Pendleton has had more Marine casualties that most bases.

“In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, no Marine base — and few bases anywhere — has sacrificed more for America, more lives, more wounded warriors, than your families and your colleagues,” she said.

“And today, we honor all of our fallen heroes, including the Camp Pendleton Marines who gave their lives just this past week: Sergeant Brandon Bury. Lance Corporal Derek Hernandez. Corporal Donald Marler. Sergeant John Rankel. Lance Corporal Michael Plank.

“Our prayers and support are with these fallen Marines and their families, and with all the Gold Star families who are here with us today. As one Pendleton wife put it so eloquently, she said, ‘We’re the voices and spirits of the boys — and girls — who didn’t come home.’ And as a nation, we join with you in honoring their memory as you and your families find the strength to carry on and to live the lives that would make your loved ones so


She noted the sacrifices military families make.

“Here on the home front, you do the job of two or three, juggling play dates and practices and ballet recitals, trying to keep the household together all on your own, making sure that your children get the care and support they need as you move from station to station, maybe trying to hold down a job or pursue your own career, get your own education, all while trying to hide your own worries when the kids look up and ask when daddy or mommy is coming home.

“And if they come home needing care, you become the caregivers to our wounded warriors, including those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. You put your own lives on hold, working every day around the clock, to make your loved ones whole again.

She said she has issued a “national challenge” to Americans to support military families, “not just now, with our nation at war, but for the decades to come.”

“One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but 100 percent of Americans need to be supporting you in that fight,’’ she said.

She said the Obama administration has made military families a priority, increasing funds for military housing, childcare, counseling and career development support for spouses, extending the Family Medical Leave Act to more military families and caregivers, and expanding veterans’ health care and giving more support to caregivers.

“We’re working to be an America where more people not only understand the service and sacrifice that you and your families make, but where more Americans take action to help lighten your load,” she said.

“That is the future that you all deserve. And working toward that future is going to remain one of my defining missions as first lady. That is my promise to you.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. and Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, were also at the event.