Los Angeles: Michelle Obama found an unusual ally, reality TV, in her effort to bring attention to the needs of military families.

The first lady, appearing on Sunday on the two-part season premiere of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," says the program was the right platform for the cause.

"We live in a media age, and one of the things we still share is our love of television" and the stories it can tell so effectively, Obama said.

"We thought this was an extraordinary venue to highlight the struggles and challenges and triumphs of a special family."

Barbara Marshall of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who served in the Navy for 15 years, was dismayed by the number of homeless female veterans and established Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House to provide shelter, counseling and other aid.

When the house grew cramped and inadequate, "Extreme Makeover" and the first lady stepped in.
She joined with series host Ty Pennington, a local builder and community volunteers on the Jubilee House project and was on hand at the unveiling to surprise Marshall.

The episode focuses on a "powerful story, powerful woman, powerful group of women who are coming together and helping one another. So we're pretty excited about this as a vehicle for telling their story," Obama said.

Marshall is evidence that many military families who face their own challenges "still find ways to serve others," Obama said.