Second Lady Karen Pence visits Pensacola, uplifts military spouses

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence made a stop in Pensacola Wednesday afternoon to meet with senior leadership at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Pence said Wednesday afternoon she had a good visit at NAS Pensacola, discussing the available mental health and military spouse programs and how they can improve.

Pence spoke to a crowd of military spouses and the public afterward about programs she hopes will better the lives of those in the armed forces.

“We will continue to improve your quality of life,” Pence said.

Pence discussed the Trump administration’s President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragety of Suicide, or PREVENTS plan. The plan, according to the White House, is a nationwide effort to prevent suicide, connect Veterans and others at risk to federal and local resources, and facilitate coordinated research on suicide prevention.

“I want to take away the stigma of asking for help and hopefully right now we’re all understanding what anxiety feels like. We’re all feeling a little fearful,” Pence said. “It’s a perfect time to reach out to someone who might be in need and say, ‘come along side. We can help you.’”

Pence also discussed efforts to empower military spouses to start their careers, despite the challenges they face when their spouse is moved to a different station.

“Military spouses deserve the opportunity to find meaningful jobs and fulfilling careers as they serve our Nation,” Pence said in a White House bulletin. “It has been an honor to lead this effort to better elevate, encourage, and recognize the resilient strength of our Nation’s military spouses and the unique challenges they face.“

Pence encouraged military spouses Wednesday by highlighting their strength.

“To hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength,” she said.

Suzi Fernandez, who attended Pence’s remarks at the Pensacola Veterans Memorial Park, knows what it takes to be strong. Fernandez lost her son, Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, in Afghanistan in 2015. Sibley was on his fifth tour.

Fernandez told WKRG News 5 the support from the Second Lady was appreciated.

“We have such a support system when we need things and we need help and advice … we have that within our own community,” she said. “But to have it at a level like that is incredible.”

Others were equally impressed with Pence’s kind words.

“With them being such military supporters, it does make sense (for them to come here),” said Nicole Little. “I’m so proud that she did come to our city.”

In addition to talking with military leaders about pressing issues, Pence was also treated to a Blue Angels flight demonstration, which she said she enjoyed.

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