From NBC's Kelly Paice
On this Veterans Day, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined ServiceNation to express their support and gratitude for the nation's veterans, servicemembers, and their families. They also helped inaugurate the launch of ServiceNation's Mission Serve initiative that works to partner civilian and military service organizations across the country.
More than 50 organizations -- including Blue Star Families, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Give an Hour, and Student Veterans of America -- have come together on a mission to serve, offering the opportunity to bridge the gap from military to civilian life for returning servicemembers by allowing them to apply their military skills to civilian service. Veteran and Chairman of Mission Serve Col. (Ret.) Robert Gordon described the initiative as "meaningfully integrating service to country with service to community."
Mrs. Obama expressed her appreciation for America's military servicemembers, saying: "One of the greatest privileges that I have as first lady is the chance to meet with veterans, and to meet with servicemembers, and their families all across America. And I have to tell you, I always come away from every single visit with this sense of pride, and gratitude -- but also with a sense of awe. True awe."
She continued, "All of these men and women, they joined our armed forces because they love this country so much that they're willing to give everything they have to protect it. And that commitment, it doesn't just disappear when they return to civilian life... For many of these folks, service is the air they breathe. It's the reason they were put here on this Earth. And they don't just want to serve for a certain number of years of deployment -- they want to make their entire life a tour of duty."
As Mrs. Biden reflected on her son Beau's recent return from a tour in Iraq, she expressed the inspiration she feels in witnessing "the deep commitment to our nation" America's veterans and military servicemembers possess.
MTV's Sway Calloway emceed today's event at George Washington University, where Alma Powell, chair of America's Promise Alliance and wife of Colin Powell, was recognized as the first recipient of the annual ServiceNation Award for Excellence in Military and Civilian Service. Mrs. Powell captured the spirit of Mission Serve as she concluded, "It is important that we affirm today that it is all of us working in partnership to build a better America."