CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — First lady Michelle Obama and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden were to head to North Carolina, Texas and Colorado on Wednesday as they promote a new initiative to support military families by calling on business and organizations to aid those who face struggles unique to service members.
The two were expected to visit Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to speak to 3,000 military personnel and families members before attending a baby shower for 40 pregnant women whose husbands are in the service. Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart planned to teach scrapbooking and the women were to hand out gifts to the expecting mothers.
"This is a challenge to every segment of American society not to simply say thank you but to mobilize, take action and make a real commitment to supporting our military families," Mrs. Obama said Tuesday as the Joint Forces initiative got under way.
Mrs. Obama and Biden are calling on businesses, nonprofits and communities to help military families often challenged by frequent moves and the emotional strain of having loved ones far away, facing wartime peril.
The White House said companies and groups already have signed on to the effort. For example, Best Buy's Geek Squad will help military families use technology to connect with loved ones who are deployed. Sears and Wal-Mart will offer transfers to employees who are military spouses who have to move and the national PTA will expand efforts to help military children adjust to new schools.
"The initiative aims to education, challenge and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure military families have the support they deserve," a White House statement said.
Camp Lejeune, one the country's largest Marine Corps bases, is to be the first stop on a two-day, four-state tour. Obama and Biden were to head Wednesday to San Antonio, where they would meet with members of the Warrior and Family Support Center, and then to Denver for a baseball game with Colorado military families.
On Thursday, the White House spouses plan to visit Colorado Springs, Colo., for a science competition and Columbus, Ohio, for a meeting with businesses and a performance by Sesame Street Muppets and others.
Associated Press Writer Nancy Benac contributed to this report from Washington.
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