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Michelle Obama: Vets Shortchanged On Jobs, Civilians Don't Understand Military

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U.S. service members receive some of the best technical and management training and experience in the world, but when they return to civilian life, they are often overlooked as job candidates because employers don't give them credit for their skills, First Lady Michelle Obama said Thursday.
"Members of our military master state-of-the-art technologies -- some of the most advanced information and medical and communications systems in the world. They run the world's most complex operations -- distributing supplies to thousands of locations, moving tons of equipment halfway across the globe," she said in her keynote address at the Clinton Global Initiative 2010 annual meeting in New York.
"And many of them are barely old enough to vote, yet they shoulder more responsibility than many CEOs, undertaking missions where there's no margin for error, where the bottom line is often a matter of life or death.
"Now these are highly valuable, highly transferable, highly marketable skills -- skills that I know many businesses, including those represented here today, are desperate to find. Yet the fact is that right now, more than 150,000 recent veterans are still struggling to find jobs."
But employers too often view a resume with multiple jobs as a red flag rather than as a fact of military life, Mrs. Obama said.
The message represents a small expansion of one of Mrs. Obama's signature projects, helping veterans and the spouses and families of active military.
The conference is an outgrowth of the organization former President Bill Clinton created in 2005, each year attracting global leaders and top executives from the non-profit, corporate and non-governmental organization worlds.
Mrs. Obama used her stage to target her message in particular to groups assisting in disaster relief, road building in developing countries and managing teams of volunteers -- technical and management tasks routinely handled in the military.
A problem for many veterans is getting their military resumes translated into terms civilians can understand and appreciate, Mrs. Obama said. Citing a survey -- she did not identify which one -- she said that 61 percent of employers "admitted" they did not understand what veterans had to offer.
Mrs. Obama highlighted a specific problem for veterans: difficulty in building seniority because the military requires frequent moves and the logistical inability to keep up with state licensing and certification requirement.
"And while most folks share my respect and admiration for their service, a lot of folks have no idea what that service actually entails. Many still don't know the full power of their human potential."
Mrs. Obama said she pledged "as part of my ongoing efforts to encourage people to support our veterans and military families, I will do my part to connect you with advocates, with experts and with resources throughout the government, from the Department of Labor to the Defense Department to the VA. If you have questions about how a veteran's or spouse's skills fit with the jobs you have, we will help you find the answers. If your staff wants to better understand the challenges that vets and military spouses face and how to address them, we will connect you to the right people.
"And today I promise to continue to use my platform as First Lady to bring people together around this issue. I'll work to spark not just a national conversation, but national action to give our vets and military spouses the opportunities they deserve."
Asked how exactly these goals to help vets and spouses were going to be accomplished, an East Wing official told Politics Daily that Mrs. Obama plans to bolster and leverage existing programs at the CGI and within the U.S. government and non-governmental groups.
Mrs. Obama also plans to engage -- it is not clear how or when -- the business and non-profit communities to tear down barriers to employment.
An official told Politics Daily, "The administration has a range of programs helping veterans and military spouses find jobs and develop career skills. In addition, the First Lady has a strong network of military family and veteran non-profits and advocates that she and her office is in regular touch with. We will leverage these relationships to help those employers interested in engaging vets and spouses, taking action and reduce barriers to being helpful."
FOOTNOTE: President Obama introduced Mrs. Obama at the forum. Both lavished praised President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, bitter rivals of Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Said Mrs. Obama, "I also want to thank President Clinton for inviting us here today and for the example he's setting not just as a private citizen making a difference in the world as only he can, but also, as Barack said, as a father who, along with his brilliant wife, has raised such a wonderful daughter in the White House. And living there, now I know that that's a feat, and it is one my husband and I are doing our best to try to match. We're trying to follow their example every day."

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11 Comments

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dawggybon

Obama's legion of blind supporters are jumping ship. The remaining die-hards are either uninformed idiots or entitlement parasites waiting for Obamanation to give them other people's money! Regardless of the nature of their dysfunction they can vote which is a compelling reason for the return of voter literacy testing. He's proven to be an arrogant fool with no obvious abilities other than reading teleprompters, lying to the citizenry of this country and crippling taxpayers for generations to come with obscene spending on worthless stimulus packages, healthcare, bailouts and entitlements. The only thing Obamanation has stimulated is public outrage and that will see he and the taxpayer funded globe-trotting missus on an extended holiday in the not too distant future!

October 15 2010 at 4:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
beckyblant

Prior to the fall of manufacturing in America there were indeed plenty of jobs for veterans and for the 9-20 percent unemployed in this country. It's not just veterans who are having a hard time finding employment - it's everyone. However, veterans are in a unique position. Prior to their leaving the military the government COULD help all veterans simply by offering how-to businesses classes that teach them how to be entrepreneurs and how to start and sustain a small business. Included in this instruction - accounting, finance, marketing and opportunity. Establish a national resource for veterans to turn to - like SCORE only for veterans. That way businessmen who are also veterans can offer mentoring, advice and help to new veterans who want to open their own business. Not every veteran will want to, or be able to start and sustain a business - but for those who can, it's a relatively inexpensive option. When veterans own and run a business they tend to hire other veterans - a win-win for all. Many of the specialized skills these men and women have ARE needed in many industries who are unaware that such skill sets exist. Unless you come from a military family you don't stop to think about the culinary, maintenance and mechanical skills needed to keep the military running. By educating businesses through a "special report" sent to every Chamber of Commerce office in America to distribute to its members, and by asking every VFW or recruiting office to contact their local speakers bureau, Kiwanis or Rotary club to speak to businesses about these issues you could educate most business owners within 6 months to a year. Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs meet regularly and have speakers every week to talk about issues facing or relevant to the business community. Solutions don't have to cost money. Social networks, Facebook pages for veteran owned businesses looking for veterans, and other options are available or can easily be created. I'm surprised no one has thought of a MonsterJobs.com for Veterans only!! Or at least an app that helps in the process of jobhunting.

September 26 2010 at 1:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
toodewey

Michelle's Mirror seems to have covered this speech too: Hire a Vet: they're not as stupid as John Kerry said they were. http://www.michellesmirror.com/2010/09/hire-vet-theyre-not-as-stupid-as-john.html

September 24 2010 at 12:18 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Arnie

Once again an Obama speaks with the single purpose of positioning themselves where they perceive the politically correct position is. And once again facts are irrelevant. As a hiring manager for over 35 years in several disciplines, now retired, I can assure you that ex-military resumes virtually always made it to the top of the pile if there was any relevancy to the job at hand. We recognized the advantages of discipline and skill set training afforded by the military. Perhaps Mrs. Obama should suggest to her hubby, the boss of the military, that there should be included some training in resume preparation and job market re-entry as part of the muster out routine. Even in a declining job market, well written resumes and disciplined job searches can still pay. The barriers she pledges to tear down are not necessarily barriers to hiring ex-military. There simply aren't enough jobs.

September 24 2010 at 6:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Arnie's comment
Fearless Leader

ARNIE, maybe in your shop, but there are many that do not choose to see the benefit of VET hiring, sometimes people CHOOSE to see the negative side of things if it will bolster their preconceived notions. Sort of like, say.. someone in the public eye will make a speech, for a good cause, and some folks will put it off as "positioning". I suggest you put on the green suit, then try and market yourself, you will learn something. As for the military giving resume classes, (since Obama is the boss) there has been available for decades that type of training if you take advantage of it, however for the military to make resume class mandatory and universal is a stupid suggestion. It is at cross purposes, if somone is leaving your employ, how much do YOU spend to assist them in getting another job? The conservative agenda is to eliminate VA HEALTH CARE, SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE, where do you stand on this breach of contract?

September 24 2010 at 3:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
eyeforeye42

Awful. Don't hear the pundits against this administration doing anything about this. And someone wants to vote them in again? The big mess was caused by them. How about a pledge to resign if they don't balance the budget, and lower the unemployment!

September 24 2010 at 4:26 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
sinuous00

How dare she or that man she's married to try and lecture US who have stood behind the military and/or been in the military all our lives. They have consorted with anti-american, anti-military activists even before adulthood..have not wanted to have anything to do with military personnel and even castigated and maligned them in the past. How DARE she tell us who have put our patriotism FIRST, this country, and revered our military and lecture US we dont' understand. She's an abomination and a ne're-do-well, who would do best to live up to the saying..."Keep silent, let them think you a fool. Open your mouth and remove all doubt." In this case she's just foolishly disgusting.

September 24 2010 at 3:08 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sinuous00's comment
Fearless Leader

While this speech is an attempt to support the US Veteran, you prefer to attack her for "DARING TO LECTURE", you state "us who have stood behind the military" thats pretty vague, QUESTION: are you now or ever in the military? My guess is NO, just another "person" who attacks with only the basest of reasons, you are so full of hate, you can't tell when someone is doing good, in fact you don't care about good, just attacks those that don't fit you idea of correctness. Conservatives are clamoring to ELIMINATE VA HEALTH CARE, MEDICARE and SOCIAL SECURITY, but thats OK because they are white rich and konservative. Stand up for America and whats right, get off this juvenile us and them crap. A VETERAN

September 24 2010 at 3:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
George & Nancy

Ms obama, have you not heard of VETERANS PREFERENCE. As a former federal personnelist, veterans have first choice in positions they qualify for. While I can't speak for the private sector, a veteran would be a first choice candidate as well unless there are affirmative action quotas that companies are forced to comply with. While it is admirable to stand up for the veteran, Ms obama, get your facts straight and work on getting rid of minority quotas in hiring. You can't do both in this administration.

September 24 2010 at 12:17 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to George & Nancy's comment
Fearless Leader

G&N THats right YOU CAN'T SPEAK FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR. But it is interesting that you manage to make this about race. FACT is many civilian types steer away from VETERANS, the reasons are varied and false. The fact is the FLOTUS is trying to stand up for us and folks like you use even this benign speech as a reason to jump on the race wagon. You are probably GOP or T party, so how about addressing your (party)'s goal of eliminating VA health care, Social Security and Medicare. You won't cause it's your dirty little secret thats coming out.

September 24 2010 at 3:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
tausands

I applaud the work both the President and Michelle Obama are doing for our veterans. It is truly wonderful to see this kind of commitment to our brave men and women in uniform.

September 23 2010 at 11:10 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply

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