First Lady to Vets: ‘America Does Have Your Back’
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011 First Lady Michelle Obama continues to keep service members, their families and veterans in the minds of the American public while pushing to secure more jobs for veterans and military spouses.
Speaking yesterday at a jobs fair at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, the first lady spoke about the “Joining Forces” campaign and creating more jobs for veterans.
“What we're doing through Joining Forces is rallying all of America to recognize and honor and support our veterans and military families,” she said. “As part of this effort, we've issued a simple challenge to America's businesses -- we've asked them to step up and hire as many veterans and military spouses as they can.”
The first lady said the response to this challenge has been “overwhelming.”
“The Chamber of Commerce has sponsored veterans hiring fairs like this one,” she said. “And they've connected more than 44,000 veterans to more than 2,200 employers in 36 states. And they're going to keep doing it.”
Obama also talked about other tools used to assist military veterans in finding employment.
“We've also launched a website called vetjobbank.com, where you can find veteran-friendly jobs online,” she said. “And that site currently lists more than half a million jobs just waiting to be filled right now.”
The first lady lauded service members for their work ethic and aptitude and said businesses need their skills.
“I know that all of you are some of the highest-skilled, hardest-working, most dedicated employees that we have in this country,” she said. “And that's important for this country to know.
“You all have mastered state of the art technologies [and] run some of the world's most complex operations,” she added.
She noted that the president believes strongly that the nation needs to step up in putting veterans to work.
“As my husband said, ‘No one who's fought for our country abroad should have to fight for a job when they return home,’” she said.
The first lady cited companies such as Siemens and Sears for having hired hundreds of veterans.
“Kmart and Sam's Club have promised to help military spouses keep their jobs if their family is assigned to a new duty station,” Obama said. “In the past month, American businesses have stepped forward with pledges to hire 125,000 additional veterans and military spouses by 2014.”
Meanwhile, she added, each time “we have asked someone to get involved and step up, we've gotten the same answer -- absolutely yes.”
The first lady noted when people are asked, they are stepping up with no hesitation.
“Companies are lining up to sign on,” she said. “They're challenging themselves and each other to do more.”
Obama also noted the president’s proposed tax credit for small businesses that hire veterans.
“And he's working with Secretary [Eric K.] Shinseki and the Veterans Affairs Department to improve the transition process,” she said. “That's something that we hear from you all quite often -- the transition resources have to be better so that you all have the resources and support as you prepare to enter civilian life.”
The first lady said there’s one thing in particular that she wants every veteran, spouse and family member to know.
“America does have your back,” she said. Meanwhile, she encouraged veterans and their families to keep working hard.
“Make no mistake about it, you all represent the very best this country has to offer,” she said. “And that is my goal -- to make sure that everyone in this country understands that.”