The Washington Post

White House musters U.S. firms to hire veterans, spouses

The White House announced a significant new effort Tuesday to reduce unemployment and improve job prospects among veterans, enlisting the support of U.S. companies to hire 435,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.

Retail giant Wal-Mart, the Blackstone private-equity firm and shipper UPS are among the major American brands that are committing to hiring hundreds of thousands of veterans and spouses, officials said. Wal-Mart previously announced that it would find a job for any veteran discharged honorably in the year he or she leaves the service.

About 1 million new veterans are expected to enter the labor force in the coming years with the end of the war in Iraq and the ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan. But many veterans are having a tough time finding jobs.

There are 207,000 unemployed veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hundreds of thousands more are not looking for work because of injuries or other reasons but could enter the labor market over time.

“When they hit the job market, employers don’t always recognize the high-quality, high-tech skills our newest veterans have gained in the military. They don’t understand the leadership that they’ve shown under extraordinary circumstances,” President Obama said Tuesday. “So, too often, just when these men and women are looking to move forward in the next chapter of their lives, they’re stuck in neutral, scraping together odd jobs just to pay the bills.”

The White House announcement — coordinated by the offices of first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Biden — is part of the administration’s “Wounded Warriors” program. The jobs program began in August 2011 and has resulted in the hiring of 290,000 veterans or military spouses, the administration says.

One of the biggest challenges in the program is making it easy for veterans to capi­tal­ize on the skills they have gained in combat when they return to the private sector, according to program officials.

“What’s really been challenging is we’re dealing with folks who have done jobs under the most difficult conditions,” said Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. They drive “a truck to deliver supplies in a war zone, but they can’t get the licensing they need to drive a truck down I-95.”

Another example, she said, are spouses who may be experienced nurses or paramedics but lose their license to practice when they move from state to state, as they often do.

Tchen said the administration was working with companies to address the problems, including retraining veterans.

In remarks Tuesday, the first lady said the program was designed to achieve more than the economic goal of keeping unemployment low among veterans.

“These efforts are about so much more than a paycheck. This is about giving these men and women a source of identity and purpose,” she said. “It’s about providing thousands of families with financial security, and giving our veterans and military spouses the confidence that they can provide a better future for their children.”

Discuss this topic and other political issues in the politics discussion forums.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
56% 36%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.