First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Department of Defense Friday, her 16th such agency visit, to thank military and civilian employees for their service to the nation.

With Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at her side, she told them, “Our country has never asked so much for so long of our all volunteer force…you always step up, and you always come through.”

The first lady also took time to address the sensitive post traumatic stress disorder issue, saying, “This administration understands that we have to take care of these American heroes who take such good care of all of us.” According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, 380,509 veterans from both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been compensated for post traumatic stress disorder since December 31, 2009.

In addition to government support, she assured the hundreds of DOD workers gathered in the Pentagon’s courtyard that as long as she was first lady, she would keep urging all Americans to do their part to help military families, suggesting, “Volunteering time…or making a home-cooked meal for a busy spouse or something as simple as just saying thank you when you see one of our troops.”

Mrs. Obama also highlighted U.S. military efforts to help aid Haiti following the January 12th catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, one of the largest relief missions in recent times and one that continues today. From the Coast Guard’s first arrival to the soldiers who helped distribute food and drinking water, the First Lady said, “Every American is grateful for the service that you’ve shown to that country. We’re humbled by it, we’re inspired by it.”

As with her previous visits to other federal government offices across Washington, Mrs. Obama called today a simple chance to say thank you, and a chance to shine a spotlight on the service and sacrifices of the U.S. military and their families.