Michelle Obama lobbies for jobs for veterans

Urges governors to make it easier to transfer skills

Michelle Obama, accompanied by Jill Biden, addressed the National Governors Association Monday at the White House.
Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
Michelle Obama, accompanied by Jill Biden, addressed the National Governors Association Monday at the White House.

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama challenged governors Monday to make it easier for military personnel to transfer their skills to civilian jobs as they return from Afghanistan and other posts.

‘‘While this time of war may be ending, the truth is our responsibility to our troops and their families will really just be ramping up,’’ she told governors during an event at the White House.

Obama pressed states to pass legislation or take executive action by 2015 allowing veterans to receive professional credentials or licenses based on their experiences in the military. Administration officials said that would allow veterans to apply for jobs more quickly rather than having to take courses for skills they already have.


The nation’s governors are in Washington for their annual meeting.

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The veterans’ initiatives are part of Michelle Obama’s ‘‘Joining Forces’’ program, which aims to help veterans and their families. The program has focused in particular on assisting military personnel find civilian jobs, an effort that is expected to take on more urgency as the Afghan war comes to a close.

The first lady said 1 million military personnel will be returning to civilian life over the next few years.

The first lady wants states to focus on making it easier for veterans to obtain credentials and licenses for commercial driving, nursing, and emergency medical services, administration officials said.

The White House has outlined suggested legislative language states can use for implementing the changes.


Officials did not have an estimate for how much it would cost states to implement the credentialing programs. But they suggested that the programs could eventually be a cost-saver by keeping veterans off unemployment.

Michelle Obama has previously called on states to help military spouses transfer their state-specific credentials when their families move due to changes in deployment. Seventeen states have passed such legislation over the past year, joining 11 states that already had laws on the books.

Also speaking during Monday’s White House meeting, Vice President Joe Biden said Washington is frozen by intense partisanship — but he is hoping it is just temporary.

Biden told the governors that they are more disciplined than Congress. He chided Washington lawmakers, asserting that they are preventing a solution to the spending cuts set to kick in Friday.

Biden said Democratic and Republican governors alike ask him how he can deal with gridlock in Congress. He says people may disagree on solutions, but everyone agrees that the so-called sequester should be addressed.


The White House has warned the $85 billion budget mechanism could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. They would slash domestic and defense spending, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Administration officials said jobless Americans who have been out of work for a long time and local governments that are paying off loans to fix roads and schools are in tough spots if the automatic spending cuts take effect.