Obama and Biden applaud Warrior Family Support Center manager
First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden applaud Judith Markelz, Warrior Family Support Center program manager, for her dedication and devotion to the center. Obama and Biden visited the center April 13, 2011, as part of their two-day tour to launch the national "Joining Forces" initiative.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 13, 2011 -- First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, visited Brooke Army Medical Center Wednesday as part of their two-day tour to launch a national initiative called "Joining Forces."

"Joining Forces" is a campaign designed to mobilize all sectors of society to support and honor America's servicemembers and their families.

The campaign's goals are to enhance the well-being and psychological health of military families, ensure excellence in military children's education and their development, develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses and increase child- care availability and quality of the armed forces.

While at Brooke Army Medical Center, the first lady and Biden spent private time with wounded warriors and their families, toured the Warrior Family Support Center and met with key leaders of Brooke Army Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid.

Resembling the look of a Hill Country home, the 12,500-square-foot facility now called the Warrior Family Support Center has come a long way from a small meeting room in the Powless Guest House, formerly known as the Soldier and Family Assistance Center in December 2003.

Realizing the need to expand the facility to accommodate the increasing population of wounded warriors and their families as the Global War on Terrorism continued, local and national communities came together through their generosity to open this new facility in December 2008.

The Warrior Family Support Center is supported by donations from businesses, organizations and the community around the world and the funding for operational expenses are secured from the Army Support Activity. Its facility is staffed by civilian personnel, volunteers and wounded warriors with more than 470,000 individual visits since it first opened in 2003.

The facility offers a 'living room' environment for the wounded warriors and their families to take a break from their medical appointments to relax, watch a movie on a big screen, play video games, check email or the Internet, take a nap or grab a coffee in a safe environment. It is where they can reconnect during medical treatment and restart their lives with the full support of the military community.

The facility also schedules more than 48 activities every month with opportunities to attend sporting events, movie night, plays at the Majestic Theater, concerts, fiestas, shopping trips, luncheons and dinners, bingo, fishing trips and more. All activities are donated from various communities and are free of charge to the warriors and their families.

"Everything in this building is all donated from the community. Without the community's support, this facility would not be standing here today," said Judith Markelz, program manager for the Warrior Family Support Center. "The work we do here is secondary to what they have done for us. They [wounded warriors] fought with honor, and shame on us if we forget their sacrifice."

Obama pointed out the Warrior Family Support Center is a prime example of what the communities can do to assist and support military families. She mentioned the facility was 100-percent built from donations and the people who devote their time and support to the wounded warriors and their families.

"The thing that is amazing, one of the reasons why we wanted to come to this facility, is because, as Judy explained, all of this that you see around is donated by the community -- 100 percent of every salary, of every brick, of every piece of wood, of every bit of food, this is all done by the community," Obama said.

"This family center is an example of how communities step up and support the military families and the troops, and they do it with their own dollars, with their own energy," she added.

America needs thousands of more communities like San Antonio to step up to support military families, added Obama.

For more information about the "Joining Forces" initiative, log on to http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces.

Page last updated Thu April 14th, 2011 at 10:04