"The military is at war while America is at the mall." That was what one Marine officer said to my husband, not too long ago, after seeing gossip news update on the latest Hollywood star's lifestyle. It was one petty argument after another, he commented, after seeing what made the headlines these days.
Charlie Sheen is "winning." Someone else was kicked off "Dancing With The Stars," and everyone is rooting for their favorite "American Idol." While I personally don't think all of America is tuned in to entertainment news, I believe there is a valid argument here. We're a nation at war, but no one seems to notice except our service members and their families.
No one, that is, unless you count the formidable powerhouse team of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. America may not have been paying attention, but the White House sure has and as an interesting twist on democracy, we've got their vote. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden have been lighting up the media carrying the banner for military families, all the way from Oprah to The View to television commercials.
So many fellow military spouses, and especially members of National Association of Military Moms and Spouses were glued to the television the day our stories were told on the Oprah show. We all beamed with pride when Mrs. Obama heralded one young spouse as her "hero." Yes, the White House now has America's attention -- but is it enough? Can a few TV spots and talk show appearances really make a difference?
In my opinion, yes and no. Yes, the appearance of our White House leaders talking the talk and taking action, is quite influential. As a military spouse myself, and as Founder of an organization that supports what spouses and moms of service members do everyday at NAMMAS, I know our challenges firsthand, and anytime high level leaders are in our corner with real talk and action, it's a good opportunity. With the launch of Joining Forces, Americans are urged to increase employment opportunities for military spouses, create educational programs for military children, and volunteer to help families when and where we need it. With this initiative, they are hitting the areas we struggle with most.
But, it won't be enough unless America really does step up and take responsibility. It could be like taking a walk down the street and seeing a homeless person. You shake your head at the sadness of it, but the reality is YOU can actually do something about it.
The truth is, we are all at war. We are all in the fight for freedom together. Some of us just do it a little closer to the battle than others. So, speaking for military spouses and parents of service members everywhere, we are grateful to serve, proud to be American, and glad you are joining the fight too.