First Lady Lauds Military Families on 'Colbert Report'
By Elaine Sanchez
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2012 - The nation has been stepping up in "amazing ways" to support military families over the past year, First Lady Michelle Obama told the audience of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" last night.
From troops to veterans to family members, they're "the best our country has to offer," the first lady told host Stephen Colbert.
Obama appeared on the satirical late-night show to mark the one-year anniversary of the Joining Forces campaign, which aims to honor and support troops, veterans and military families.
Over the past year, Americans have hired more veterans, causing veteran unemployment to decrease at "some pretty significant rates," Obama said to resounding applause.
The nation also is opening doors to flexible employment for military spouses, the first lady said, noting employment is a "key issue" for military families, who move 10 times more often than the average American.
While the progress is encouraging, Obama said, "Until we get to zero, we still have a lot of work to do."
These employment opportunities are mutually beneficial. Veterans and spouses are able to help support their families, she said, and businesses gain highly trained and highly skilled workers who ultimately improve a company's "bottom line."
Noting government "can't do it all," the first lady issued a call to action to the nation. "Everyone has to step up in ways big and small," she said.
The nation owes military families a debt of gratitude, Obama said. She recalled meeting military families across the nation while on the campaign trail several years ago. Awed by their sacrifice, the first lady vowed to "be their voice and tell their stories" if she had the opportunity.
Military families often don't speak up about their challenges, and they don't complain. Rather, they've dealt with a decade of war with grace and courage, Obama said.
This strength also inspires those around them, Colbert said, noting veteran coworkers would help to boost office morale. People most likely would opt not to complain about minor work issues while in the presence of a war veteran.
Obama agreed. "It's hard to be a whiner around a veteran," she said.
Joining Forces Campaign
Special Report: Military Family Support