First lady Michelle Obama came to Annapolis on Wednesday to offer “a huge thank you” to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and state lawmakers for passing a bill to ease the transition of military veterans into civilian jobs.
Obama attended a signing ceremony for the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, legislation that aims to speed up the process for military personnel seeking credentials and licenses needed for civilian jobs. The law will also allow military training to count as college-level academic credit in some cases.
The first lady and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, have made passage of similar legislation a priority across the country. Obama argued Wednesday that members of the military who risk their lives for their country should not be subjected to needless delays and repetition when seeking to join the civilian workforce.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘How does that make sense?’ ” Obama said at the afternoon ceremony, where O’Malley was joined by legislative leaders and invited military personnel.
Obama credited Maryland with passing “one of the best bills we have seen in this entire country,” saying it would “put highly skilled individuals to work in communities all across Maryland.”
The bill, sponsored by O’Malley (D), passed both the House and Senate unanimously in the 90-day legislative session that wrapped up last week. It was among the least controversial measures in a package pushed by O’Malley that also included gun-control legislation and repeal of the death penalty.
Before arriving at the State House, Obama met with some service members at the Naval Academy in Annapolis who would be affected by Maryland’s new law.
Before leaving the ceremony, she told the invited guests that she would like to linger a little longer. “I wish I could stay and have ice cream and crab cakes,” she said.