First Lady Michelle Obama is demonstrating a sustained commitment to an extremely valuable pet project that she runs with Dr. Jill Biden, the Joining Forces initiative to support military service members and their families.
When it was launched, the effort seemed to me, as much as anything, a project to recast Mrs. Obama’s image from the woman who had suggested she had never been proud of her country into a first lady who honors the troops. It certainly was partially that. But now, even with Election Day over and done with, Michelle is rededicating herself to the cause and showing that her personal commitment to the men and women of the armed forces is genuine and abiding.
Joining Forces is a wonderful idea that describes itself as “a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.”
The goal is to assist military families with their employment prospects outside of the military, the education of their children who are jerked from town to town, and the health and well being of families and fighting heroes under enormous stress.
Last month, with the nation’s governors a captive audience at their annual White House meeting, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden urged them to help veterans by making it easier to apply the skills they already have toward licensing for certain types of jobs. She and Dr. Biden have already helped convince many states – the total stands at 23 – to ease the licensing of military spouses for the jobs they hold when they move from state to state – an obviously common occurrence for military families.
Why, the logic goes, should people who are already trained have to spend hours in the classroom relearning what they already know?
And Wednesday, Michelle headed off to the Business Roundtable to pitch to the assembled CEOs the idea of hiring the “hundreds of thousands” of veterans and military spouses looking for work – and the thousands more who will be searching in the years to come when “over one million more will be hanging up their uniforms and transitioning back to civilian life,” according to Mrs. Obama.
She spoke movingly and persuasively about the benefits of hiring veterans:
These men and women will be returning to their families, rejoining their communities, and figuring out what’s next in their lives. And as they do all of that, the one thing that they’re going to be thinking about is a job . . .
So these men and women, our veterans and military spouses, have seen it all. And in the process, they have gained the types of qualities and values that you simply can’t teach anywhere else –- a relentless commitment to excellence, the ability to juggle multiple priorities, the wherewithal to meet deadlines under every circumstance imaginable.
They know how to develop and execute complex strategic plans, and they don’t give up until their mission is complete. And when the pressure is highest, that’s when our veterans and military spouses are at their best.
These men and women are exactly the kinds of employees you all are looking for to help you compete in today’s global marketplace, and they’re proving that every single day with their achievements in the private sector.
We certainly knock Mrs. Obama around plenty here at WHD when she does outlandish, offensive or hypocritical things.
But this is a noble effort and a noble cause, it speaks well of her, and she gets little credit for it from the press. She deserves applause, and her effort – which can really help the people risking their lives to ensure our freedom – merits more attention.