First lady Michelle Obama invited her girl gang, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kerry Washington, to join her on the cover of May’s Glamour magazine, for which the three have a frank discussion about veterans’ issues, a topic all three are passionate about. Obama has, of course, made military families one of her top priorities as first lady, co-founding Joining Forces in 2011 with second lady Dr. Jill Biden. Washington’s father served in the military and Parker has several friends in uniform.
Their chat with Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive — timed perfectly for Memorial Day — focuses on the obstacles military veterans face in rejoining society and what the rest of us should be doing for them.
“There is this idea that those who serve are untouchable heroes,” Washington says. “[But] the more we hear what people are going through, [we realize] it’s what every woman is going through… The challenges are just put under a magnifying glass because their lives are so extraordinary.”
Obama, Parker, and Washington know each other through their work with the president’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
“One thing I want to clarify — that every service member, veteran, wants us to remember — is that the vast majority of people returning from service come back completely healthy,” the first lady says. “But when we do come across someone who is struggling… we have to develop a culture of open arms and acceptance so that they feel comfortable saying, ‘I’m a veteran. And by the way, I need little help.'”
The trio also call for more representation of veterans, and in particular female veterans, in Hollywood.
“We’ve dipped into the roles that women have played in TV shows like Army Wives and China Beach. Women were a part of the storytelling of M*A*S*H, though that seems like a century ago,” Parker notes. “The entertainment industry loves a big war movie, but women don’t feature in those stories typically; it’s men in these heroic, unthinkable missions across dangerous lands.”
Washington adds, “You always have that shot of the woman back home on her couch, listening to the radio or watching the news.”
The three ladies then get into a discussion of who’s got their 6, or, in civiilian-speak, their back. Parker and Washington speak highly of their female friends and while the first lady says she’s “always had this cadre of girlfriends,” she adds she and Barack would not be where they are now without her mother, Marian Robinson.
“In those early years, when we were moving into this house, the kids were starting a new school in the middle of the year, and they were so little, so little, and we were trying to create some normalcy,” Obama says of her 77-year-old mother. “Who took them to ballet? Who was there when we were traveling, so the kids would come home not to butlers and (cont’d)