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Haitian, FL guests in First Lady's box at SOTU

Among the guests in First Lady Michelle Obama's box tonight at the State of the Union address: 

Ambassador Raymond Joseph -- In 1990 Raymond Joseph was called to be Haiti's Charge d'Affaires in Washington and his country's representative at the Organization of American States.  After helping with the first democratic elections in December 1990, he returned to the Haiti Observateur where he remained until he was called back to Washington in March 2004, where he is currently the Ambassador. Joseph is a graduate pastor from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a B. A. holder in Anthropology from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.  He also has a Master's degree in Social Anthropology/Linguistics from the University of Chicago.

Cindy Parker-Martinez (Belle Isle, FL) -- Cindy is a mother of two young children, who shared her story of the problems her family faces with the current health care system at a Health Care Community Discussion held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, one of thousands of discussions held nationwide in December 2008.  In April 2008, Cindy, her husband, and her son were all denied insurance coverage on the individual insurance market because of pre-existing conditions. Her 11-month old daughter was also denied coverage due to an insurance company age requirement of 12 months.  Both Cindy and her husband are currently uninsured because they cannot afford the insurance offered at her husband's employer.  Although they previously paid their premium, they could not afford to keep up the monthly payments after receiving thousands of dollars in medical bills from her husbands unexpected 6-day hospital stay for pneumonia.  Their family's income is too high for them to qualify for Medicaid.  Cindy and her husband currently have no insurance and have thousands of dollars in medical debt.

Rebecca Knerr (Chantilly, VA) -- Rebecca is representing her husband, Captain II Joseph Knerr, the Task Force Leader of Fairfax County's Virginia Task Force 1 serving in Haiti.  Having worked as a Fairfax County Firefighter for 15 years, Joe currently serves as Station Commander at Fairfax Fire and Rescue Station 18.  He initially joined the USAR team in 1998 serving in a variety of operational capacities and now in leadership positions.  Joe is also involved in the coordination, teaching and training of other international rescue teams.  A former Fairfax County Firefighter and Paramedic herself, Rebecca works as an Emergency Physicians Assistant in a Northern Virginia Hospital and for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department developing and delivering emergency medical services  education to uniformed personnel.  Rebecca, 24-month-old son Jackson, and 12 week-old-daughter Grace are eager to welcome Joe home.  

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