- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening another front in her nearly year-old campaign to support service families, first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday released a new push for jobs on or near military bases.

She also announced plans to mark the Joining Forces campaign’s first anniversary with a two-day, four-state swing next week that will include stops in election battleground states Pennsylvania and Florida and a chat with comedian Stephen Colbert on his show “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central.

The Joining Forces organization said it has lined up commitments for more than 15,000 jobs in the coming years. Most will come from telemarketing and customer-support companies and will enable the spouses and veterans to work from home.

Mrs. Obama noted these jobs are especially helpful to military families because they move so often — about 10 times more often than the typical U.S. family.

“We’re trying to meet these spouses where they are,” she said in a conference call with reporters. “This will make such a huge difference. … When the next set of orders comes in for these families and they have to move across the country, they’ll be able to move these jobs with them.”

Ahead of the Joining Forces anniversary, the first lady visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda to distribute Easter treats from the White House to military families staying at Fisher House, which houses families while a family member is receiving medical care.

Mrs. Obama was joined by family dog Bo, briefly wearing bunny ears, as she greeted the families and children who were decorating Easter cards with stickers, cotton balls and crayons. She introduced the Portuguese water dog as “my only son.”

The first lady carried a basket full of Easter cookies decorated with pastel colors and images of Bo and hatching eggs.

Mrs. Obama also brought tickets for the families to attend the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday.

“Come ready to play,” she told the children about the annual event held on the South Lawn.

Next week, after a White House celebration, she and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife and her partner in Joining Forces, will make stops at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to meet with nursing industry leaders; New York for Mrs. Obama’s Colbert taping; Shreveport, La., to mark the 50,000th veteran or service spouse hired under the campaign; and the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Fla.

So far, Mrs. Obama told reporters, the jobs component of Joining Forces has exceeded expectations.

“The country is stepping up in ways both large and small,” she said.

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