Second Lady Karen Pence this morning hosted the USO, senior military spouses and congressional spouses to stuff care packages for the spouses of deployed service members.
Second Lady Karen Pence this morning hosted the USO, senior military spouses and congressional spouses at the EEOB’s Indian Treaty Room to stuff care packages for the spouses of deployed service members.
The packages – 450 for female spouses as well as 50 for male spouses that were assembled elsewhere – included a letter, bracelet and challenge coin from Karen Pence.
“They make such sacrifices for our country without ever complaining,” Pence said. “They are really the backbone of our military.”
The congressional spouses had a private meeting with the Second Lady in her office before the event.
“I was a congressional spouse. I think you understand what these military spouses are going through because you deal with some of the same issues,” Pence said in her public remarks in the Indian Treaty Room. “You’re at home. Your spouse is voting. You don’t know when they’re going to come home. You don’t know what the schedule is.”
Pence recalled one New Year’s Eve when her family was on vacation and her husband, who served in Congress for 12 years, had to stay to vote.
“You get a little bit of what they go through,” she said. “What better group of people to pack these care packages.”
She gave a shout out to Amanda Banks, the wife of Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who filled in for her husband in the state Senate when he was deployed to Afghanistan.
“We’re just trying to elevate military spouses,” she said.
Pence wore black pants and a black top accented with a white, grey and tan scarf to which a pin identifying her as a Blue Star mom was attached. The Pences’ eldest child, Michael, is a first lieutenant in the Marines where he is an aviator.
Karen Pence, who was in San Antonio Wednesday to recognize the nation’s first Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone, has made helping military spouses one of her causes.
Last year, she assembled care packages for spouses with First Lady Melania Trump and with the Red Cross. She also joined the Congressional Club last year in assembling care packages for children at Fort Carson who have a deployed parent.
Thursday, Pence took her place in the middle of a long table topped with eight bins of items to be stuffed into red, white and blue USO bags. She dropped in each bag a container of lotion. Other care package items for the female spouses included: fuzzy socks, lip balm, face mask, deployment journal, bath bomb, and hair ties.
Male spouses receive a navy blue bag with a water bottle, USO brand pen, Chapstick lip balm, body wash, body lotion, USO brand mints, male keyholder, Rite in Rain notebook, and USO brand PopSocket.
Mrs. Pence will distribute the packages to the spouses at Naval Station Norfolk next month.
“This is such a fun project,” she said.
The USO has been creating care packages for deployed personnel since 2003. The group does two package assembly events on Capitol Hill each year. The USO’s
Virginia Johnson said that after last fall’s Capitol Hill assembly project, the group talked to the Second Lady’s office about coming to the White House.
“We couldn’t ask for a better gathering than we’ve had today,” Johnson said.
After a group photo, participants were invited to take a tour of the Vice President’s ceremonial office.
Here are the provided names of participating congressional spouses.
Amanda Banks, Indiana
Anne Arrington, Texas
Barbara Morris Lent, New York
Beth Harvey Congressional Club, Executive Director
Betty Ann Tanner, Tennessee
Caroline Aderholt, Alabama
Carolyn Yoho, Florida
Christine Mica, Florida
Cindy Flemming, Louisiana
Dana Neugebauer, Texas
Danise Baird, Indiana
Debbie Meadows, North Carolina
Jacki Cisneros, California
Kaira Rouda, California
Kathleen Waters, Maryland
Katie Posey, Florida
Lisa Hensen Congressional Club, Military Fellow
Martha Brooks, Alabama
Mary McKinley, West Virginia
Maureen Shriner, Maryland
Meredith Iler, Nebraska
Nancy Miller, Iowa
Samia Burton, Indiana
Susan Estes, Kansas
Vikki Watkins, Washington
Here are the provided names of the participating members of the USO Service Council.
Kristin Crouch, Spouse of USO CEO and President Dr. J.D. Crouch II
Ricki Selva, Spouse of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva
Sally Lengyel, Spouse of National Guard Bureau Chief General Joseph Lengyel
Polly Spencer, Spouse of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer
Jay Hone, Spouse of Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson
Dawn Schultz, Spouse of Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz
Dana Richardson, Spouse of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson
Dr. Kara Haas, Director of Worldwide Strategic Regulatory Affairs for Medical Devices and Diagnostics at Johnson & Johnson (former Lt. Col. In the United States Air Force and Blue Star mother)
Sally Thornberry, Spouse of House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX)