The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • Businesses Must Hire More Vets

    Ed note: This op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden was first published on Fortune.com. You can see the original article here.

    Two years ago, we launched Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families. We did this for two simple reasons: because we were both awed by the courage and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day to protect our values and keep us safe. We were also awed by their families, the spouses and children who serve right along with them, enduring deployment after deployment with grace and resolve.

    As we traveled the country visiting bases and military communities, everywhere we went, we heard from veterans who had years of training and experience in the military -- leading dozens, even hundreds of their peers; operating some of the most advanced technology; and solving complex problems under the most extreme conditions imaginable. But when they returned home, they struggled to find decent jobs. We met military spouses who'd spent decades moving from base to base every couple of years and struggled to maintain their careers. As the months passed, we saw that the unemployment rate for our most recent veterans remained far too high above the national average.

    These men and women are some of the highest-skilled, best-trained, hardest-working people in this country. They are medics and engineers, drivers and welders, computer technicians and machinists. They are eager to work and determined to keep on serving this country. All they need is a chance.


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Announces a New Program to Help Transitioning Servicemembers Get IT Jobs

    First Lady Michelle Obama Announces the IT Training and Certification Partnership, April 29, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the White House Forum on Military Credentialing and Licensing, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, April 29, 2013. The First Lady announces the IT Training and Certification Partnership, a new public-private partnership that will enable thousands of service members to earn industry-recognized information technology (IT) certifications before they transition from military service. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    In the ongoing effort to help our servicemembers and veterans transition from active duty service to the civilian job market, the White House today invited leaders from the private sector, the military services, industry trade associations, unions, educational institutions, state legislatures, veteran service organizations, and state licensing boards for a forum on military credentialing and licensing.

    At the event, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the launch of the IT Training and Certification Partnership, a new public-private program that addresses an issue that can prevent our troops from gaining employment in the private sector: Active military personnel typically do not have the industry-recognized certifications that reflect the IT skills and expertise they gained through their military service.

    Today’s announcement is the second major partnership developed through the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, which was established last June by the Department of Defense at President Obama’s direction. The new Partnership will provide opportunities for up to 161,000 service members to gain industry-recognized, nationally portable certifications necessary for 12 high-demand technology professions, including computer programmers, quality assurance engineers, and IT security analysts. The targeted professions are expected to generate more than 1.8 million job opportunities by 2020, and have an average annual salary of more than $81,000. Their high-quality military training assures that our veterans have the skill sets that employers demand to fill these positions


  • West Wing Week: 04/26/13 or “This Stuff’s Really Cool”

    This week, the Vice President traveled to Boston for a memorial for Officer Collier, and the President memorialized the victims of the West Texas explosion. The President also hosted the Amir of Qatar, the Teacher of the Year, the 3rd White House Science Fair, and visited Dallas with the First Lady for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.


  • President Obama Participates in the Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

    President Obama with former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter, at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, April 25, 2013

    President Barack Obama stands with former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter, at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Tex., April 25, 2013. Former First Ladies Laura Bush, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, are also pictured. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    President and Mrs. Obama were in Dallas today for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. It was an historic occasion that brought all the living former Presidents --  Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- together for the first time since right before President Obama took office in 2009. They were joined by former First Ladies Roslyn Carter, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton (also a former Secretary of State, as President Obama noted) and Laura Bush.

    In his remarks, President Obama highlighted the special bond that connects our past presidents, and said that despite disagreement on matters of foreign policy, all of the men on the stage with him shared "a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families. And we are united in our determination to comfort the families of the fallen and to care for those who wear the uniform of the United States."


  • West Wing Week: 04/19/13 or “Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.”

    This week, the President responded to the terror attack in Boston, met with AmeriCorps volunteers, invited the Wounded Warrior riders to the White House, and for the first time, asked a citizen to deliver the weekly address.


  • States Step Up to Help Veterans and Spouses Get Back to Work

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, April 17, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama watches Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley sign the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 during a ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Md., April 17, 2013. Seated, from left are, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Gov. Martin O'Malley, and House Speaker Michael Busch. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama and the First Lady are committed to doing everything in their power to assist the brave men and women who have served our country in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Over the last year and a half, the President has overseen the first re-design of the military’s transition assistance program in twenty years; created new tax credits to spur veteran hiring; expanded re-employment services, including the Veterans Job Bank and the Veterans Gold Card; and launched a series of initiatives to expand the number of veterans that get jobs in healthcare and first responder fields. Additionally, under the great leadership of the First Lady and Dr. Biden, Joining Forces has expanded hiring and training partnerships with the private sector in an effort to help our veterans and their spouses get back to work.

    Yet, our veterans still face major hurdles as they transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce. According to a 2012 survey by Prudential and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 60 percent of survey respondents said they had trouble translating their military skills into civilian job experience, creating a significant barrier to employment. Many high-demand, good-paying jobs like paramedics, truck drivers, nurses, and welders, require either a national certification or state occupational license to be hired, and currently our national and state systems make it very difficult for service members and veterans to obtain these civilian certifications and licenses that directly translate to their military training. Often times service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive these occupational credentials, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential training requirements. And employers, many with significant needs for skilled workers, are left waiting for these military members to complete these, oftentimes lengthy, credentialing training programs – programs that many veterans could have taught themselves.


  • President Obama and Vice President Biden’s 2012 Tax Returns

    Today, the President released his 2012 federal income tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $608,611. The Obamas paid $112,214 in total tax. 

    The President and First Lady also reported donating $150,034 – or about 24.6 percent of their adjusted gross income – to 33 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was $103,871 to the Fisher House Foundation.

    The President’s effective federal income tax rate is 18.4 percent. The President believes we must reform our tax system which is why he has proposed policies like the Buffett Rule that would ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share while protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up. Under the President’s own tax proposals, including limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it.


  • Photo Gallery: Behind the Scenes in March 2013

    The White House Photo Office just released their latest behind-the-scenes photo gallery, which includes images from President Obama’s historic Middle East trip, candid shots with senior advisors, and events around the White House.

    Check out some of the best images below, and see the full set of 36 photos on our Flickr gallery.

    • President Barack Obama signs memorabilia for March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador Nina Centofanti

      President Obama signs memorabilia for March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador Nina Centofanti, 8. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden in March

      President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama throws a football with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

      President Barack Obama throws a football with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • Bo, the Obama family dog, waits for First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn driveway

      Bo, the Obama family dog, waits for First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn driveway. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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    • President Barack Obama visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

      President Barack Obama visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with their daughtersto attend an Easter service

      President Obama and First Lady Obama walk with their daughters Sasha and Malia to attend an Easter service. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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  • West Wing Week: 04/12/13 or “We Choose Love”

    This week, the President, Vice President and First Lady continued to call for action to reduce gun violence, while the President announced the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, conferred the Medal of Honor, met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and held an Easter Prayer breakfast.


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Challenges Chicago Leaders to Create Opportunity for all Children

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on youth empowerment in Chicago, Ill., April 10, 2013.

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on youth empowerment at a “Joint Luncheon Meeting: Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago,” hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, Ill., April 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    First Lady Michelle Obama today brought a room filled with Chicago business and community leaders to tears as she challenged them to commit to the most important unfinished work of our lifetime -- widening the circle of opportunity for every last one of our children.

    Mrs. Obama was in Chicago to address the Public Safety Action Committee, a new private-sector effort launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to address the violent crime that is taking a terrible toll on the youth of the great city she and I both call home.

    As the First Lady pointed out, thousands of Chicago children are now living in neighborhoods where a funeral for a teenager is considered unfortunate, but not unusual; where wandering onto the wrong block or even just standing on your own front porch can mean putting yourself at risk.

    This needs to change. In Chicago and across the country, we need to create ladders of opportunity for our young people. We need to give our children mentors who push them and nurture them. We need to teach them the life-skills they need to succeed. We need to give them alternatives to gangs and drugs – safe places where they can learn something and stay out of trouble. Every single child -- in cities like Chicago and all across America -- has boundless promise, no matter where he or she lives.