At a Feb. 10 event attended by The American Legion, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and First Lady Michelle Obama announced an American construction industry pledge to hire at least 100,000 military veterans in the next five years. Striking a familiar note in opening remarks, Perez declared that hiring veterans is "not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.
"All men and women who have sacrificed for our country in our armed services deserve opportunities for good jobs worthy of their character and their achievements," Perez said. "The Department of Labor will do whatever it takes to help our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs, and I am inspired by the commitment displayed today by the construction industry and all our partners in helping to achieve that mission."
The Labor Secretary them introduced two "exemplary" veterans who successfully transitioned from military to civilian working life. After telling their stories, the First Lady stepped behind the podium and, before an audience of several hundred, echoed Perez's opening remarks.
"More than 100 American construction companies (have come) together to announce that they plan to hire more than 100,000 veterans within the next five years," she said. "They made that commitment not just because it's the patriotic thing to do, and not just because they want to replay our veterans for their service to our country, but because they know that it's the smart thing to do for their business."
The construction industry initiative, intimated Mrs. Obama, was inspired by the "Joining Forces" campaign begun by she and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. The First Lady also touted veterans employment legislation and executive orders signed by her husband.
In remarks to The American Legion following the event announcing the construction industry's commitment to hiring veterans, Perez said he hoped that "what we did today will serve as a model for other industries and they will say to themselves, ‘Hey, what a good idea. Let's do that'."
Perez also paid tribute to veterans service organization, such as the Legion, in the cause of veterans' employment. The Legion has worked closely with the Department of Labor, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other government entities, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in facilitating conferences, symposia, job fairs, licensing and credentialing campaigns, and other employment-enhancing efforts on behalf of veterans.