Last week I had the most surreal and humbling experience. I was allowed to represent "Sew Much Comfort" at the White House in a meeting with President Bush. He had asked 15 organizations who supported the troops to the White House in order to thank them for their service. What a memorable event! Now there's an understatement!
During the meeting, I was moved by the President's palpable concern for the military members and for their families back at home!
The President came in and warmly greeted each of us individually. He then gave an opening speech in which he talked about the war effort and expounded on how important he felt this war was in determining our future as a nation. He then talked about how important the military members are to him. He said that each night he gets a briefing on the members who have died and he takes time to think of them. He said the families of the military members are always on his mind. He spoke of how important the patriotic outreach of our American citizenry is to the troops and thanked us for our collective efforts.
The President talked about how supporting those who defend our freedom was not a political issue and that, regardless of how people felt about the war - the troops deserve the full support of the American citizenry. I think this is an important thing for all of us to remember. Part of what makes us a great country is that we can all have our different political positions. However, nobody wants to see a repeat of Vietnam where the public takes out it's frustration on the war fighters. It's nice to be in a country where people are supporting the service members and their families.
Most of the organizations were part of the "America Supports You"program. This is a Department of Defense program that gathersresources for non-profit organizations support the military. Thisincredible program has been able to help organizations reach out toeach other and the community to respond to the needs of the military.What a tremendous program and a wonderful staff! And I'm not justsaying that because they provided Andi and I with lunch before theWhite House meeting! Susan Davis and her staff were warm, welcomingand enthusiastic. Thank you for all you have made possible for SewMuch Comfort and all the other organizations under your umbrella.
Then each person around the table got to talk about their group. I was able to talk about Sew Much Comfort and what we do for the wounded. He immediately identified with the issues that we try to resolve. He has been to the hospitals enough to be able to understand how difficult it would be to put boxers on over a fixator or maneuver into a t-shirt with burns on your upper body. I believe his trips to the hospitals and his interest in the wounded really got his attention. He really connected with the mission of Sew Much Comfort and was truly appreciative for the service and support we provide.
His ability to connect with the mission of each of the organizations was heartwarming. There were a few groups that I absolutely fell in love with the mission. Freedom Calls arranges to get video-teleconferencing for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan so they can talk to their families back home and be part of their special moments. We're going to try to get this group into Landstuhl and the major medical center here at home. I think this will be great for service members on the mend to be able to talk to family back home! Another group is Military Family Support Center. They provide services for spouses of deployed service members - plumbers, heat/cool personnel, diapers, food, legal - whatever. Can you imagine how nice it would be for the spouse is overseas to know there is a local center his wife can call to get assistance - particularly for our Guard and Reserve spouses that don't have the same ready-made support system the Active Duty members enjoy?!?!?! They are trying to establish local affiliates across the country. Sew Much Comfort is helping them by supplying space in our Ohio distribution facility! I think this is critically important.
When the President got to these two groups, he was immediately and animatedly interested. He truly understands that repeat deployments are hard on military families. I believe this was the most important issue that came out of this meeting. As a military spouse, I was shocked and thrilled to know that "the BIG GUY" feels our situation is important and is aware of how important it is to take care of the homefront! He empathizes with how critical it is for the warfighter to have peace of mind about the homefront. I was truly impressed with this affinity for military spouses. He even said, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" It was nice to see a President, a man of tremendous power and clout, be concerned about the military spouses, to understand the significance of what we do everyday, to legitimize the importance of the strong spouses behind the service members. I've always been proud of my 'job' in the military as a spouse, I was even more so after that meeting!
Thank you, Mr. President,for valuing our mission! I guess I just wanted you all to know that your President thanks you for your service to the security of the nation. He feels what you do is important and is grateful to you for the service you enable your spouse to give this country! I'm also thankful that he sees the importance of all the grassroots organizations striving to serve the service members!