President Obama said he’s thankful that many troops and veterans who have returned home from the wars in the Middle East will be spending Christmas with their families, he stated in his annual holiday greeting.

“For many of our troops and newest veterans, this might be the first time in years that they’ve been with their families on Christmas,” Obama said.  “In fact, with the Iraq war over and the transition in Afghanistan, fewer of our men and women in uniform are deployed in harm’s way than at any time in the last decade.”

The president and first lady Michelle Obama called on Americans to commemorate the sacrifice of service members — and the spirit of the holiday — with service of their own.

“For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us – to love our neighbors as we would ourselves; to feed the hungry and look after the sick; to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper,” the president said. “And for all of us as Americans, regardless of our faith, those are values that can drive us to be better parents and friends, better neighbors and better citizens.”

The first lady said she and Vice President Biden’s wife Jill had been “overwhelmed” by those who worked to help military families. She added that Americans should pledge to reach out and lift up “those in our communities who could use a hand up” in the New Year.

Neither the president nor the first lady used the holiday greeting to encourage Americans to sign up for ObamaCare. Before leaving town, the White House encouraged families to discuss buying insurance coverage while gathering over the holidays.

However, the president did note that Sunny, the newest Obama puppy, had joined their family this year.

The Obamas are spending their Christmas on vacation in Hawaii, where the president grew up.