Defense secretary’s wife visits Vail with troops |

Defense secretary’s wife visits Vail with troops

Veronica Whitney
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyJoyce Rumsfeld poses for photographers with Cpl. Casey Owens, left, and Cpl. Christopher Fesmire on Friday at the bottom of Golden Peak in Vail.

VAIL – Before heading for her first ski run of the day on Friday, Joyce Rumsfeld, the wife of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, wanted to be around the injured troops who came to ski here this weekend”The more a citizen can have an experience of being around someone who is serving, the more the children can see someone who has come back wounded and still has the spirit and the belief in the mission, that’s healthy to our country,” said Rumsfeld, who is in Vail this weekend to participate in the Vail Veterans Ski Weekend.Having visited U.S. troops on many occasions in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said she knows firsthand how much expressions of support from the American people boosts the morale of the troops and their families. “I have spent my life close to military life,” said the mother of three and grandmother of seven. “From the family perspective, we know about being called up – what that emotion is. The emotion is gratitude.”That’s why Rumsfeld said she is one of the biggest advocates of a new government program called America Supports You. The program helps people and businesses – such as Vail Resorts, which joined the campaign recently – create programs to support the troops and their families.

“It’s a privilege to be where I am right now,” she said. “To be with some of the families. To try to figure out if we’re doing everything we could be doing.”Everyone says to me, What can I do?” she added. “They said it immediately after 9-11. They understand what’s at stake – our freedom – and they have enormous respect for our troops.”When asked what has changed about her husband since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Rumsfeld said his assessment of threats against the United States.”The magnitude of the terrorism in the world probably hit everyone that day,” she said. “They were very conscious on one level of the threat of terrorism. After that day, the reality and the enormity of it was probably what changed.”In Washington, we adjusted overnight,” she added.Rumsfeld describes her husband as a direct and strong man.

“When he was first secretary of defense and we had young children he would be gone a lot,” she said. “He would leave notes to the children at their bed stands and I said to the children, ‘We certainly always know what he thinks.’ He didn’t have to be there. He has total integrity and honesty and he’d like people to be like that with him.”Asked about her husband being criticized by opponents of the war, Rumsfeld said:”The war is about our way of life. If you’re in a position of responsibility, and your judgment is, ‘These are the stakes and they are out to destroy that,’ then you have a very clear direction that you would use your military and no one does that with a lightness of heart,” she said. “But it is about our way of life.”But not everything is Iraq and the war on terrorism in the Rumsfeld’s lives. The couple loves to go skiing in Taos, N.M. when they have a chance. “Is (Donald) is an avid skier?” she said. “He’s an aggressive skier.”==========================================

Troop supportTo learn more about America Supports You and to read the stories of soldiers in Iraq and Americans who are supporting the troops, log on to Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or Vail, Colorado

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