An Hour with Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a roundtable with National Guard families in Minneapolis, Minn

First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a roundtable with National Guard families and local community leaders dedicated to supporting military families, at the 133rd Air National Guard in Minneapolis, Minn., March 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Military spouses are known for our toughness. For our ability to be resilient.  We can turn a house full of all white walls somehow into a home. We can cheer up a child when they don’t understand why their daddy can’t be home on their birthday. We are a tough group and we are resilient.  All we ask for in return is for understanding, respect, and an occasional “thank you”.

To receive that thank you from Michelle Obama is quite the honor. I had the great opportunity to meet her last Friday with a delegation of military families and organizations from Minnesota.  Mrs. Obama graciously spent close to an hour with me and seven other individuals to try to learn more about how our state supports military families and to find out what more can be done with her Joining Forces initiative.

She thanked us for the sacrifices that we have made as families of deployed soldiers. She told a young man of 13 years whose father was about to deploy that our nation’s military kids are courageous and have earned our gratitude. She held the hand of a mother who lost her young son in Afghanistan. But, above all, she listened intently. She genuinely wanted to know what she and Dr. Jill Biden could do with their initiative to somehow give back to those who have given the most for our nation.

When talking about what military families and children go through, Mrs. Obama said, “We've got 1 percent of this country serving and sacrificing on behalf of the other 99 percent of us. That can be a daunting position to be in. And a lot of times America just doesn't understand the struggles. ... We take it for granted because you all handle and shoulder the burden so well.”

As I reflect back on what she said I realized that I too am one of those spouses. I have helped to carry the burden, I have sacrificed alongside my military spouse brothers and sisters, and I deserve the acknowledgement and the support. There, I finally said it!  And, it felt good.

To all those proud, tough, and resilient military families out there: Know that you have the support, respect, and sincere gratitude from this nation. Know that Joining Forces was built to help ease the burden that military families so proudly bear. Put aside your fortitude for a moment and realize that it’s OK to accept help. There are people out there who want to help, who want to thank you for your sacrifices you have made.  Please visit Joining Forces to learn more about the support that is available to you.

Nicole Lovald is a military spouse who joined with other military spouses and non-profit leaders in a roundtable discussion with the First Lady in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week.

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