By C. Todd Lopez
The president and first lady touched on the upcoming holidays and the struggles endured by military families -- struggles which are often amplified when service members are deployed during family-focused holidays.
"I want to thank your families because they stand and wait," the president told service members. "I know how hard it is to have someone who's not at the table on a holiday -- that are in harm's way, that find themselves out of the country."
The president said that he and the first lady are aware of the struggles of having a family member away during the holidays because their son, Beau, served as a major in the Delaware National Guard and was away during the 2008 holidays on a year-long deployment to Iraq.
"You do so much, and your families give so much," Biden told service members. "You're the ... finest military that the world has ever seen."
Through the "Joining Forces" initiative, the first lady has made military families a major focal point of her time in the White House, both now and when her husband served as vice president.
Joining Forces is an initiative to support the families of service members, veterans, caregivers and survivors.
"I know what it's like to see that empty seat at the table and ... just how hard it is for the families," the first lady said. "I want to thank all of you. That's why we came to have dinner with you, to say 'thank you' to you. We're so grateful for everything that you do."