Fort Meade Soldier, President Obama talk fatherhood
June 21, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (June 21, 2012) -- Capt. Joubert Paulino ate a pork sandwich while President Barack Obama dined on a plate of barbecue ribs as the two men discussed the rewards of fatherhood at Kenny's BBQ Smokehouse in Washington, D.C.
The unannounced luncheon on June 13 kicked off the Fatherhood Buzz Barbershop Tour, a collaboration between Obama's National Fatherhood Initiative and the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, a national and international resource for fathers, researchers and policy makers.
The tour, which took place June 16 in eight cities nationwide, was designed to increase awareness through local barbershops about responsible fatherhood and parenting.
"It felt really special to meet the president, a man symbolized as a leader of our great nation," said Paulino, of the 32nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team based at Fort Meade and father of a 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. "I did not meet with him to discuss politics or even policies, but where we stood as fathers and how he manages his time for the family and country."
The event also was Obama's way of honoring military fathers.
"When these guys are deployed sometimes, they're leaving the family behind. I just want to make sure they get support," said Obama, according to the N.Y. Daily News.
Paulino was invited to the luncheon by the White House after he wrote a letter to the National Fatherhood Initiative about a month ago on how to be a good father.
The captain said he learned about the initiative through his son's Cub Scout troop at Fort Belvoir, Va., where Paulino lives with his wife and children.
Paulino was joined at the luncheon by 1st Lt. William Edwards, winner of this year's Fatherhood Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative. Edwards is stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C., with his wife and four children.
Nunery Mason, owner of Mason's Barbershop in northeast Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years, attended with his shop's barber Otis Gamble.
When not at his shop, Mason cuts hair in the U.S. Capitol building and is a participant in the Fatherhood Buzz campaign.
The two-hour event began with a tour of the Oval Office, the Situation Room and the White House Garden.
During the luncheon, Obama discussed the role of fathers in society and how children who grow up with a proactive father are less likely to use drugs or become pregnant, said Paulino.
"I did have the opportunity to speak with the president at the personal level," Paulino said. "We shared stories of parenting experiences and personal goals we intend to fulfill with our families."