First Lady Highlights Veterans Hiring

The construction industry pledged to hire more than 100,000 veterans over five years.

WASHINGTON - APRIL 21: First lady Michelle Obama walks on stage during an event at the Seed School April 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. President Obama called on Americans to serve their communities before signing the "The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act." (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Jordain Carney
Feb. 11, 2014, 2:25 a.m.

First lady Michelle Obama on Monday touted the con­struc­tion in­dustry’s de­cision to hire more than 100,000 vet­er­ans over five years.

“That’s a num­ber that gets me out of bed in the morn­ing, so that’s why I’m happy to be here. This is huge. It’s a huge deal,” the first lady said, speak­ing in Wash­ing­ton.

The jobs pledge was backed by more than 100 con­struc­tion com­pan­ies, with Obama not­ing it is not only “the pat­ri­ot­ic thing to do” but also a good busi­ness de­cision.

She also used Monday’s event to tout the De­fense De­part­ment’s Mil­it­ary Cre­den­tial­ing and Li­cens­ing Task Force, which is aimed at help­ing ser­vice mem­bers earn em­ploy­ment cer­ti­fic­a­tions. “Ser­vice mem­bers across the coun­try are par­ti­cip­at­ing in ap­pren­tice­ships and ac­cred­ited ci­vil­ian train­ing pro­grams right near their bases, so when they leave the mil­it­ary, they’ll be ready to start a good job the very next day,” Obama said. The task force was launched by Pres­id­ent Obama in 2012.

The event fol­lows an op-ed in Monday’s Wall Street Journ­al by the first lady. She said that the in­dustry’s de­cision sends “a clear mes­sage that we hon­or those who’ve sac­ri­ficed for us, and are de­term­ined to serve them as well as they have served our coun­try. Amer­ica’s vet­er­ans de­serve no less.”

Obama’s speech comes as Con­gress is re­new­ing its fo­cus on vet­er­ans-re­lated is­sues. The Sen­ate took up a bill to re­peal $6 bil­lion in pen­sion cuts to work­ing-age mil­it­ary re­tir­ees on Monday, and a wide-ran­ging vet­er­ans’ bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders awaits mem­bers’ con­sid­er­a­tion. A pro­vi­sion in Sanders’ bill would call on the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to hire 15,000 vet­er­ans. 

And Sen. Richard Burr fo­cused on vet­er­ans dur­ing the weekly Re­pub­lic­an ad­dress, ref­er­en­cing a num­ber of is­sues in­clud­ing claim delays at the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment. 

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