First Lady Asks Governors to Aid Certification for Veterans
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2013 As the war in Afghanistan winds down and more than 1 million veterans return to civilian life, the nation’s responsibility to help them in that transition will ramp up, First Lady Michelle Obama told the National Governors Association at the White House today.
Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, spoke to the nation’s governors to seek their help with the “Joining Forces” initiative to foster support for service members and their families.
The first lady noted that President Barack Obama created a task force to help service members obtain the national certification that they need to fill high-demand civilian jobs with the manufacturing industry.
“We’re expanding this effort to the state level to focus on the health care and transportation industries,” she told the governors. “We want to make it easier for those who served as medics or drivers in the military to get new jobs as paramedics and nurses and physician assistants or truck drivers.”
Troops who have these skills shouldn’t have to start from scratch in the civilian job market, the first lady said.
“If a service member has spent years treating wounded troops in a military hospital, they shouldn’t have to then spend thousands of dollars to get back into the classroom and study things that they've already learned just to get the same kind of job in the civilian world,” she said. “We want to make it easier for those who served as medics or drivers in the military to get new jobs as paramedics and nurses and physician assistants or truck drivers.”
Just as the governors have helped to make it easier for military spouses with professional licenses move from state to state without starting over -- an effort still in progress and which Biden addressed in her remarks -- they can help to put troops back to work while retaining their state’s standards.
“This is not about lowering standards,” the first lady said. “We've done this for our troops with manufacturing skills, and hundreds of them have earned advanced certifications already. So now it’s time to get them back to work in the medical and transportation fields as well, and to do it right away.”
Obama set the end of 2015 as a goal for all 50 states to have taken legislative or executive action to help troops get the credentials they need. “We don’t want our men and women -- and their families -- in uniform and veterans to be limited to where they can live because not all states are on board,” she added.
“You’re not going to have to twist many arms to make this happen,” the first lady said. “People on both sides of the aisle will start lining up to help on this issue, because they know … we’re not just upholding our values and honoring our troops -- we’ll also be lowering the unemployment rate. We’ll be improving our health care system; we’re going to be boosting economic growth in this country through these efforts.”
Obama emphasized the long-term value of not only supporting troops on the battlefield, but sustaining the support to them and their families when they come home. And that’s what the Joining Forces initiative is all about, she added.
It’s not just about supporting our heroes while they’re on the battlefield,” she said. “It’s about standing with them in these times -- standing with them and their families when they come home. When they come, it’s a forever commitment, because we know that they don’t stop serving this country when their military service ends. That is the beauty of our service members. They keep on going.”