December 30, 2011 - She's best known as America's First Mom, the First Beekeeper, and Veggie Gardener-in-Chief. But first lady Michelle Obama is also getting quite a name in military circles: First Booster for the troops. "Certainly other first ladies and presidents have taken an interest," says Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association. "But to make supporting military families [a priority], and not just to make it one of the things you do, this is a game-changer," adds an appreciative Raezer.
Often teamed with her lieutenant, Jill Biden, the vice president's wife, Obama has organized and attended more events for and with military veterans and their families than any previous first lady, according to veterans groups. This year alone, for example, she's participated in 50 events, many out of the eye of the media, and even dedicated the White House Christmas tree to supporting veterans. "There is this sense that this is genuine," says Raezer. "We haven't had this kind of visibility from the White House—ever."
And it's also more than a simple stop-by to drop off gifts at a local Toys for Tots outlet, like she did the week before Christmas, or a quickie visit and speech to welcome home troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama and Biden are leading the charge to encourage businesses to hire veterans, an especially difficult challenge with unemployment sky-high, through an initiative called Joining Forces. Many companies like Google now have programs to hire veterans. The International Franchise Association credits Obama with boosting hiring efforts like its bid to get more veteran couples to become franchise owners. "The first lady's efforts accelerated those programs," says spokesman Matthew Haller. read more>>>