First and second ladies to speak at Veterans Day event

November 9, 2009
by Lauren French

First lady Michelle Obama and second lady Jill Biden will appear at GW on Wednesday to launch a network of service opportunities designed to help U.S. troops around the globe.

The event, which will kick off 'Mission to Serve: Forging a Continuum of Service,' will be part of GW's Veterans Day celebrations and feature remarks from both women, a short performance and an opportunity to assemble care packages for soldiers,

Mission to Serve will be "a network of 36 initiatives partnering civilian and military service organizations to meet the critical needs of our nation, troops, military families, and veterans," according to a news release from ServiceNation, a national campaign to increase community service across the U.S.

MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway and acting CEO for the Corporation for National and Community Service Nicola Goren will also be in attendance.

The event will start at 12 p.m., beginning with the assembly of care packages in the Marvin Center. ServiceNation spokeswoman Elizabeth Wilner said the White House confirmed that Obama's schedule would not permit her to attend the care package service event, but Wilner said the event's other speakers may be at that part of the activities. Wilner did not confirm or deny if Biden will be in attendance.

Remarks from Obama will start at 2 p.m. in Lisner Auditorium where she will speak on "the importance of both civilian and military service in strengthening our communities and advancing our nation," according to ServiceNation's release. Biden will speak about offering thanks and service to veterans and their families.

Prior to those events, student veterans from GW will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and participate in "military-style physical training activities including an obstacle course and a pull-up and push-up contest," according to a University statement.

Brian Hawthorne, president of GW Veterans, said he is excited that Obama and Biden will be on site to support the vets. While his organization is not sponsoring the event, veterans at GW will be participating.

In conjunction with the event, the first-ever ServiceNation Award for Excellence in Civilian and Military Service will be presented to Alma J. Powell, chair of America's Promise Alliance. The event will also mark the release of "All Volunteer Force: From Military to Civilian Service", which is the first-ever nationally representative survey of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, according to the report.

Tickets to the remarks sold out within about 10 minutes of the event's announcement, Wilner said. Unregistered guests can wait in a standby line on Wednesday at Lisner, and if ticketed guest or members of the media do not fill their seats, those in the wait-listed line will be given access to the event.

Wilner suggested both the ticketed and the standby audience members arrive early as the Secret Service will be closing the doors before 2 p.m., when Obama is scheduled to begin her remarks.