For an editorial titled “These women need us to have their backs,” the “Power Women” join forces to brainstorm ways to gain momentum around helping America’s servicewomen, veterans, and military wives.
Check out a few interview snippets and behind-the-scenes footage below!
First Lady Obama on why she’s passionate about the issue and her Joining Forces initiative for military families, which she launched in 2011 with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden:
“During the first campaign, one of my jobs as my husband’s spouse was to travel around the country and really listen to women. We held small discussion groups, [and] there were voices that were new to me: the voices of military spouses, many of them women, and veterans…. I was overwhelmed by their challenges, and the notion that we as a country don’t even know that these women exist, because we live in a country where one percent of the population protects the rights and freedoms of the other 99 percent of us. I thought that if I had the opportunity to serve as First Lady, I was going to use this platform to be their voice.”
“It’s always positive to hear how many people are willing to step up—whether it is the employment community, mental health community, or medical community…. The response is always yes.”
On how this can be a difficult issue to understand and support:
KW – There is this idea that those who serve are untouchable heroes. [But] the more we hear what people are going through, [we realize] it’s what every woman is going through…. The challenges are just put under a magnifying glass because their lives are so extraordinary.
SJP – “I feel like there’s a laundry list of issues they face…. Being a working mother, serving, returning from Iraq or Afghanistan—I almost don’t know where to begin…. And I feel intimidated by their service; I feel ashamed that I haven’t served. So I almost feel like I’m patronizing by inquiring how to help. When you see a serviceman or -woman, you always—I always—say, “Thank you for your service.” But you know that’s not enough…. What do we do? Every community has a community of veterans. Where do we begin?”
First Lady Obama on where to start:
“Start in your community. Most of what these men and women need is people in their backyard lending a helping hand.”
On removing the stigma of PTSD for veterans:
MO – “One thing I want to clarify—that every service member, veteran, wants us to remember—is that the vast majority of people returning from service come back completely healthy…. But when we do come across someone who is struggling…we have to develop a culture of open arms and acceptance so that they feel comfortable saying, ‘I’m a veteran. And by the way, I need little help.’ This is something we need to do in this country around mental health as a whole—destigmatizing mental health.”
SJP – It’s important that when they go to meet a potential employer, this person knows they are capable. And that any issues they have are the same ones any of us might have—whether we lose a family member or have a period of sadness. We want to talk about the public health challenges. But we also don’t want to put so much focus on these issues that veterans seem like they are made of glass. You don’t want to meet them and you’re like, “Are you OK?”
KW – They aren’t broken; they are heroes. They have extraordinary discipline, courage, and capacity—that’s what we can focus on.
MO – Think about the amount of training the average veteran has received through the military—physical training, project management training, public relations work. Think of an average tour of duty in a foreign land, the money we put into developing that, and then they’re discharged, and what, we let that investment go? Absolutely not. These are some of the best-trained people in our society.
[via FASHIZBLACK, thefashionspot.com]