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Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

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President Barack Obama speaks Tuesday at a White House briefing on the Joining Forces initiative that aims to find jobs for veterans and military spouses. Navy veteran David Padilla, seated in the front row beside the lectern, was unemployed for more than two years until he was hired by UPS. Photo by Mike TheilerPresident Barack Obama speaks Tuesday at a White House briefing on the Joining Forces initiative that aims to find jobs for veterans and military spouses. Navy veteran David Padilla, seated in the front row beside the lectern, was unemployed for more than two years until he was hired by UPS. Photo by Mike TheilerSome 290,000 veterans and military spouses have been hired since the inception of the Joining Forces initiative two years ago, nearly tripling the initial goal, first lady Michelle Obama announced Tuesday at a White House briefing.

Numerous businesses also have vowed to hire or train an additional 435,000 people during the next five years, she added.

The first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, established Joining Forces in June 2011 to mobilize support from every sector of American society to help service members, their families and veterans.

“[Michelle and Jill] identify so deeply with these military families because they understand the sacrifices that they’re making,” President Barack Obama said.

The president acknowledged Cabinet members, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top military leaders in the audience.

“We appreciate all the great work that [you’re] doing,” he said, “and your presence reflects our commitment to this cause across the entire government.”

Noting that more remains to be done, the president said employment continues to lag behind the national average for post-9/11 veterans, especially for the youngest veterans.

“This does not make any sense,” he said. “If you can save a life on the battlefield, then you sure as heck can save one in an ambulance in a state-of-the-art hospital. If you can oversee a convoy of equipment and track millions of dollars of assets, then you can run a company’s supply chain or you can balance its books. If you can lead a platoon in a war zone, then I think you can lead a team in a conference center.”

Dr. Biden said she and the first lady have had “the incredible honor” of meeting military spouses all around the country.

“I’m always amazed,” she said, “by their strength, their commitment, and, most importantly, by their resilience.”