First lady Michelle Obama is imploring the incoming administration to keep her Joining Forces initiative active for years to come, even if they rename and rebrand the effort.
"I want to look back in eight years, in 12 years, 20 years, and say, 'Man, what we did back in the Obama administration, we only scratched the surface,'" she told a crowd of supporters Monday at the final series of events for the military support initiative.
"It's like, call it what you want. Joining Forces, name it after whatever you want. We have no pride in credit. We just want the bar to be high. That's what folks should expect from their commander in chief and from all their elected officials."
The Joining Forces program -- launched by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in April 2011 -- has been praised by many in the military community for successes in bridging the civilian-military divide.
Staffers estimate that more than 1.5 million veterans and military spouses have been hired through corporate partnerships connected to the initiative's employment campaigns, and local lobbying efforts by officials have resulted in new rules for transferring job credentials for military spouses in all 50 states.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had pledged to make the program a permanent part of her White House if she had won. President-elect Donald Trump has not directly addressed the effort, but has pledged to look for ways to assist veterans and military families.
In recent months, Joining Forces officials have included efforts to help with veterans homelessness in their work, highlighting community groups and corporate donors at Monday’s White House event.
Through other Department of Veterans Affairs and federal agency efforts, homelessness in that population has dropped by half since 2010, but still totals about 40,000.
"We are making real progress," the first lady told the crowd. "We are absolutely on our way to solving this problem. And we cannot let up for a single minute.
"We all know that as long as our fellow Americans are serving in harm’s way, we will always have new veterans transitioning to civilian life who might need our support. And a veteran who’s doing just fine today could hit on hard times tomorrow. So our work is never finished."
In September, both Obama and former first lady Laura Bush held an event to highlight the need for military family support from the White House, calling it a sacred honor and responsibility for the presidential family.
On Monday, Obama repeated that point.
"As my husband and other elected officials across America leave office and new administrations come into power, I know that cities and states in this very room today have been able to solve (these problems) even with changes in leadership," she said. "So it is definitely possible to continue this work from one administration to the next." Follow @LeoShane
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .