First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced Thursday that since Joining Forces was created in 2011, companies have hired or trained more than 1.2 million veterans and military spouses.
The White House’s Joining Forces initiative focuses on helping veterans find jobs and helping military spouses keep meaningful employment if they have to move.
“They always have our backs, and they need to know that all of us have theirs,” Biden told representatives from companies that make it a priority to hire and train veterans.
Along with the announcement from Obama and Biden, 40 companies pledged to hire more than 110,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years, and more committed to training them.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, vowed to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years.
“We’re constantly looking for leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action, and who want to deliver for customers,” he said. “Those principles look very familiar to the men and women who served our country in the armed forces. And also their spouses.”
Bezos said Amazon is fortunate to already have veterans in leadership roles across the company.
“Because of their amazing work, we’ve more than doubled the number of veterans at Amazon since 2013,” he said.
Amazon also committed to training 10,000 veterans and spouses in cloud computing. This would offer a path to Amazon Web Services certification and provide entry into "a high-demand, good-paying field,” he said.
The aerospace-defense sector pledged to hire a combined total of 30,000 veterans, and the telecommunications sector committed to hiring a combined total of 25,000.
Obama said companies didn’t make these commitments because she and Biden asked them to or because it’s the patriotic thing to do.
“They made these commitments because time and again they saw for themselves that our veterans and military spouses are simply the best employees around,” she said. “And they realized that training and hiring these folks isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do for their bottom lines.”
This is especially true for tech jobs, said Obama, who commented that the United States has the most technologically advanced armed forces in history.
“If they can set up wireless networks in Baghdad or do satellite reconnaissance in the mountains of Afghanistan, I’m pretty confident that they can handle whatever’s happening in Silicon Valley,” she quipped.
Biden said people want to know how they can salute service members and veterans and how to thank them for their service.
“This is it,” she said. “We believe all Americans should step up to show their support for service members, veterans and their families.”
Obama stressed the continuation of the Joining Forces message.
“So we need to keep up this momentum,” she said. “And I will say this again and again and again: No matter who is in the White House next, this should absolutely continue to be a national priority with national leadership coming from this building."
Charlsy Panzino covers veterans education, employment and transition issues, as well as travel, entertainment and fitness. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.