Mullen Applauds New Veteran Workforce Initiatives
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2011 The nation’s top military officer introduced the commander in chief today at an event centered on a subject both men have stressed: support to veterans.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, introduced President Barack Obama to the crowd gathered at the Navy Yard here to hear about new initiatives designed to improve veterans’ post-service employment prospects.
The chairman said the Navy Yard, where much of the nation’s fleet was built or repaired, was a fitting site for the president’s announcement.
“Here, opportunity was created and innovation rewarded,” the admiral said. “Here was spent the great sweat and muscle and sinew of our overseas security. And so it is fitting, indeed, that here today the president announces a new initiative to put the muscle and sinew and intellect of a new generation of veterans to work again.”
The president today proposed a set of tax credits for companies hiring veterans, announced a new task force to develop reforms that will help service members transition to civilian jobs or higher education, and challenged industry to hire more veterans.
Mullen, who has traveled the country for more than a year seeking community, business and educational support for veterans and their families, praised the new initiatives.
“I'm pleased and extremely grateful that President Obama has focused all of us on … finding ways to make sure our veterans have the tools they need for success after service, and the jobs they need to continue their lives after they have done and given so much for us,” the chairman said.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama “have devoted an extraordinary amount of time and personal leadership to this endeavor,” Mullen said. “Through programs like this one and their wider ‘Joining Forces’ initiative, our first family is doing everything they can to put our military family first.”
Many of today’s veterans have completed as many as seven combat tours, the chairman noted.
“I think back to a young man I met in Los Angeles a couple years ago,” Mullen said. “He fought in Afghanistan, was fresh out of the Army, unemployed and homeless. He told me, I gave my country 100 percent. All I ask for is 100 percent in return.”
Mullen said a job, an education, a roof over your head and food on the table isn’t much to ask.
“What our troops need when they come home is more than yellow ribbons, parades and an open heart. They need an open hand,” he said. “One of the best ways to extend that hand, to truly honor a veteran, is to hire one.”
Today’s service members are smart, tech-savvy, wired to serve and great leaders, the chairman said.
With the right opportunities, he said, veterans and their families will make “incredible contributions” to their workplaces and communities.