Maimed soldiers and flag-draped coffins are what we think of when we think of the sacrifices the military make.
It's the "when" that vexes Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. She asks that we remember the constant sacrifices military families make in a guest appearance on Lifetime's "Army Wives" Sunday, Aug. 8.
"I want to raise awareness of the special sacrifices made by the military and their families," Biden says in an exclusive print interview with Zap2it. "I have been working with Michelle Obama since day one, and working with troops and their families, and seeing what their needs are. Our military cannot do their jobs if things are unsettled at home. We are trying to work on making things good for their families."
The makers of the drama series reached out to Biden."There was a lot of talk, back and forth, between Lifetime and the White House on how it could work," executive producer Jeff Melvoin says. "It came down to episode 16, an episode involving a fun run and obstacle course. It was natural to have a speaker in it."
And Biden was a natural on screen, says Kim Delaney, who stars as Claudia Joy.
"We had a scene in Claudia Joy's pergola," Delaney says. "She was good. She said, 'Help me, Kim,' and I said, 'You're great! Just talk to me.' It was really easy and comfortable. It was fun. It was a much longer day than she was anticipating."
"It was such a completely different experience than what I thought," Biden says, separately. "The cameras and everything going on, and the tents, and the people, and the sound and the lighting. I had never imagined anything like that. I have a newfound respect for actors and actresses now."
Acting is a pretty far cry from her day job -- as a college professor. Biden is thought to be the only person to hold down a separate full-time job while serving as second lady. Though she's accustomed to being in front of her students teaching English, acting was completely foreign to her, she says.
In the episode titled "Mud, Sweat & Tears," Biden comes to Fort Marshall to speak at the fun run. She also speaks with military spouses, which is reflective of what Biden does on a regular basis, according to her staff. This part of the episode was Biden's idea.
Biden's point in the show, and her message in general, is not about flying halfway around the world. Rather, it's about going down the block and checking in on a neighbor.
"People need to take a little time out of their daily lives," she says. "Find out if someone in the neighborhood may be National Guard or military, and dropping off a movie and popcorn for the kids or offer to mow the lawn. Find out which family in your child's class has someone in the military. It's small acts of kindness."