First lady visits Fort Belvoir
September 13, 2013
Military children received a surprise visit from first lady Michelle Obama during craft time at the Fort Belvoir USO Warrior and Family Center yesterday.
During her visit, Mrs. Obama helped the children create patriotic crafts for wounded warriors, along with actor and musician Gary Sinise, who toured Fort Belvoir before performing with the Lt. Dan Band in the Invincible Spirit Festival later that evening.
"Gary and I are here because we're so proud of you guys. You are like heroes, do you know that?" she told the children. "We just wanted to shine a light on all of the great things that the USO is doing for military Families all over this country."
During her visit, Michelle Obama helped the children trace their hands on red, white and blue paper, and design American flag artwork for wounded servicemembers.
"She's probably the coolest person I've ever met," said Jamesen Bardfield, 9.
"I think it was fun," added Neena Cipolla, 8. "Gary (Sinise) came. He helped me make my flag.
Following her USO visit, the first lady delivered the crafts to Fort Belvoir's National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite center, which helps treat servicemembers with invisible war wounds like Traumatic Brain Injury, and spent time with wounded servicemembers and Families there.
Jennifer Irish, an Army National Guard spouse whose husband is in the wounded warrior program here, said the craft time was especially meaningful to her Family, including her 7 year-old daughter Jennifer.
"She always likes making things for her Dad," Irish said. "He has always said, when he is in Afghanistan, the stuff that even random kids make just lifts his spirits and makes him happier."
Lorraine Horton, Army spouse, was thrilled to meet the first lady with her son Charles, 4.
"I thought it was awesome," she said. "It definitely shows her support and makes the Families feel really, really good."
Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson also attended the event and said he was honored to have the first lady be a part of it, and to show her some of the many programs at the USO Warrior and Family Center.
"I know that the activities that support our servicemembers and their Families are near and dear to her heart. We're just excited to have her," he said.
K.J. Stevens, USO programs coordinator, said that the best part of the event was seeing the smiles on children's faces when Michelle Obama told them they were heroes.
"It was really special that she got to talk to the kids. It really showed how much she appreciates what we do," Stevens said.