By Shawna Shepherd
First lady Michelle Obama is stepping out of her comfort zone and jumping into the political fray. She'll spend the next two weeks on the campaign trail helping to raise money for Democratic candidates in as many as seven states. But a day before she put on her political hat, Mrs. Obama focused on one of her signatures issues, supporting military families.
In typical low-key fashion with no press in tow, the First Lady visited with injured service members and their families at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She also visited one of the new Fisher House homes being built there for families of patients receiving medical care.
Fisher House Foundation President David Coker was with the first lady when she paid her visit.
"She wanted to show her support for the military and the programs that help those families," Coker told CNN. "It was her first visit at a Fisher House and a very warm one."
Coker said Mrs. Obama also met with a young enlisted Marine, who along with his fiancée, is staying at one of the pre-existing Fisher House homes while he undergoes treatment for cancer.
This may have been the first lady's first visit to such a facility, but President Obama has visited two Fisher House homes in Virginia and Illinois. The foundation received $250,000 from the Nobel Peace Prize award money President Obama donated to charity.
According to Coker, $150,000 of the president's donation was put toward the house Mrs. Obama visited, along with the other two nearing completion, at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. The remaining $100,000, Coker said, will go toward a project at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The first lady's busy campaign schedule may keep her from making more visits like this one in the coming weeks. But according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs the White House considers the First Lady an "invaluable asset," and they are hoping to capitalize on her non-political appeal. Gibbs said she won't be delivering political attacks on the trail. "You'll see her make a positive case for these candidates, not get involved in the back-and-forth of normal political campaigns," Gibbs said.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski