the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President, The Vice President, The First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and Petty Officer David Padilla at Joining Forces Employment Event

East Room
11:46 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all very much.  My name is Joe Biden, I’m Jill Biden’s husband.  (Laughter.)  And it’s a delight to be here with all of you.
Secretary Shinseki, Becky Blank, who is the acting Commerce Secretary, all -- we have Seth Harris here, who is the acting Labor Secretary.  And, Admiral, good to see you, man.  Look at all the brass here.  There’s no reason why we all shouldn’t be here.
Look, folks, the truth of the matter is that we’re delighted to welcome you to the White House, but all the business leaders, military leaders, it’s great to have you here -- and veterans.
But the truth is we all should be here.  We all should be in this spot at this time because there’s so much work to do.  My colleagues are tired of hearing me say over the last 20 years, we only have one truly sacred obligation in this country.  We have a lot of obligations -- to our children, to the elderly, to the poor.  But there’s only truly sacred obligation in my view, and that's to equip those we send to war and care for those who come home from war and their families.  That's a sacred obligation.
This post-9/11 generation -- and I see some folks out there -- well, no one is quite my age.  (Laughter.)  But I see folks out there from the Vietnam generation on, and before.  All made incredible contributions, but this 9/11 generation has been astounding.  Over 3.4 million young women and men have joined our military since 9/11, with almost the certain knowledge that they're likely to be deployed overseas.  1.7 million of those brave women and men have walked across those scorching sands of Iraq or those barren mountains in Afghanistan.  And many of them, as all of you know -- and some of you are among them, including some of the brass here -- didn't just serve once or twice.  Some have served three and four and five deployments.  Pretty incredible.
Every day I get a card, and on my schedule card I have them listed on the back -- and, thanks to the Pentagon, we call every day.  I want to know exactly how many lives have been lost and exactly how many people -- how many of our brave soldiers, Marines, Guardsmen, et cetera, how many have been wounded.  As of today, 6,564 have died in those conflicts; 50,651 have been wounded.  And like all of you, I count the one.
I know how we would have felt if, God forbid, something happened to our son when he was there a year and someone said, by the way, there are around 6,000 who have died, or there are about 65,000 who have been wounded.  Every single one of these women and men have families, have a story and a future, and many of them still have a future.
So this obligation is real, and it’s going to be lasting, and it’s consequential.  The truth of it is these veterans coming home into civilian life are among the most qualified men and women that have ever served our military because of these men up here -- how they -- and women, how they’ve trained them.  They're among the most qualified technically, intellectually.  They're among the most qualified Americans that have ever been available for the job market.  They have the capacity to do virtually any job in the private sector. 
You're going to hear from a young man soon who, I will not steal his thunder, but works in an industry where they move a lot of equipment and freight around.  I remember talking to someone at one of these big companies and saying, well, I don't know about so and so; he was talking about a young man.  And I said, man, this kid handled more responsibility and billions dollars' worth of equipment than you own, than you’ll ever own.  (Laughter.)  So don't tell me this kid can't handle the dispatching yard of your trucks.  One of the vehicles he had cost more than all your trucks.  (Laughter.)  
And, seriously, think of these kids.  Go to an aircraft carrier.  Watch who is making the judgment as to when that jet aircraft lands down.  It’s a 19-, 20-year-old kid standing there with a flag.  It’s a 19-, 20-year-old kid -- they even let me do it once -- (laughter) -- that sits underneath that as they catapult off.  They can handle anything.  They're technologically proficient.  They're totally responsible.  And they’re undeniably capable.  
So what we’re selling here today -- and all of us are selling it -- is an incredible product.  And I want to thank so many of you business leaders here today behind me and out in the audience for recognizing that fact.
As the President said, no one who fights for this country overseas should have to come home and fight for a job when they come back home.  They just shouldn’t have to do that.  And that's what you’re all about.  That's what we’re about. 
But it’s not just about the returning veterans.  We know there are families, and particularly you men and women in uniform know the sacrifices your families make to allow you to serve.  The English poet John Milton once said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”  And literally, hundreds of thousands, millions of wives, husbands, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers -- they’ve stood and waited.  And we owe them as well, because they have served as well.  
And quite frankly, I’ve never seen my wife, Jill, so absolutely, totally committed to any cause, and that's the cause of serving military families, the cause of serving all of you who served.  I’ve heard her say it once, I’ve heard her say it over the last seven years I don't know how many times:  Everyone, everyone can do something.  Only 1 percent of the population is serving, but 90 percent of the population -- 99 percent owes them just a simple act of kindness.
I remember how moved we were when we got a call from our daughter-in-law after a snowstorm the winter our son was deployed.  The next-door neighbor just walked over and shoveled the driveway -- just shoveled the driveway.  Never said a word, packed up, left.  Shoveled the driveway.  We’ve got a lot of driveways to shovel.  We owe an awful lot.  
And that's why Michelle and Jill started Joining Forces, and why, with the absolute rock-solid commitment of President Barack Obama behind them, they’ve done, with your help, a remarkable job.  I’m sure you’ll hear the numbers and you will all know the remarkable job that you’ve done and they’ve done responding to the needs of these brave women and men.
And now I’d like to introduce you to a woman whose father served, whose sons serve, and who serves us every day -- Jill Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, who happens to be my wife.  (Applause.) 
DR. BIDEN:  Thank you, Joe.  Hi, everyone.  I’m Jill Biden, a proud Blue Star mother.  
Over the past few years, the First Lady and I have had the incredible honor of meeting military spouses all over this country, and I’m always amazed by their strength, their commitment, and, most importantly, by their resilience.
These are spouses like Erin Voirol.  Erin met her husband, Dale, a Sergeant First Class in the Army, when they were both in high school.  Not long after becoming an Army wife, Erin found herself overseas with two young children.  Soon thereafter, her husband deployed for a year.  That was just the beginning.  
Over the past 18 years, they have moved their family 10 times.  They are raising three children with Erin providing primary care of the kids during three deployments, each for more than a year.  And today, Dale is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina while Erin and their children stayed in the Hampton Roads area in Virginia so that their kids can finish high school there.  
Through all this, Erin pursued her own education, made strong connections with other military spouses, and embraced a wide range of careers, all leading to her current profession of serving other military families.  Erin is the operations manager for two non-profits that provide employment readiness and job-placement assistance for veterans, military spouses, and more.
Erin is here with us today.  Erin, would you stand.  Thank you, Erin, for all you do.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
Yet stories like Erin’s are not unique among military spouses.  They are people who, when their spouse deploys, are carrying our military families, doing the work of two parents, raising children, running a household.  And military spouses are the first to step up for their communities, whether it’s volunteering to help out a neighbor or serving in the PTA.  All the while they’re building their own careers.  
And because our nation’s military spouses move 10 times more than their civilian counterparts, that’s not always easy.  Just as they’re settled into a new job, it might be time to pack up again, move across the country or out of the country, and start the entire process all over again.
But of all the things Michelle and I have learned about military spouses, here’s what stands out the most:  They never complain.  Whatever the situation, they keep on serving, doing whatever needs to be done.  Military spouses like Erin have so much to offer -- their skills, their incredible work ethic, and perhaps most of all, their endless energy.  
That’s why nearly two years ago, we were proud to launch the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.  This effort has helped spouses build strong resumes, has sponsored hiring fairs and has created mentoring programs.  Since its launch, more than 160 Fortune 500 employers have signed on to the partnership, and more than 43,000 military spouses have been hired.  And more and more companies are finding ways to keep these spouses in their employment, even after they move.  And I’m sure every partnership company will say, if you’re looking for dynamic, resourceful, and highly skilled employees, our military spouses are exactly who you are looking for.  
As Joe mentioned just a moment ago, our military spouses serve right along our servicemen and women.  Through Joining Forces, we honor all military service and we ask all Americans to join us in finding ways to show our gratitude.  From the beginning, the private sector has played an important part in supporting the Joining Forces initiative.  
Our next speaker is a veteran who has benefited from this private sector involvement.  It is my great pleasure to introduce David Padilla, who served in the United States Navy for five years as a second-class petty officer operations specialist.  And he has a new four-month-old daughter -- month, right?  Four-month-old.  David, thank you for your service to our country.  (Applause.)
PETTY OFFICE PADILLA:  Good morning.  My name is David Padilla.  I served honorably for the United States Navy as an operations specialist second-class petty officer.  I served in two deployments -- first, as a database manager in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and second, as an air controller and watch supervisor on an AFRICOM partnership for countries such as Kenya and the Congo.  
My time in the Navy taught me invaluable skills:  How to manage a team, work with data, and operate high-tech equipment -- not to mention all the discipline and hard work that comes with wearing that uniform.  But when I came home and started my job search, it felt like companies didn’t see any of that in me.  
After returning from the Navy, I applied to countless jobs and was averaging two interviews a week, but nothing ever materialized.  So with the help of the GI Bill, I enrolled at Mercy College in New York where I earned a bachelor’s degree in finance.  Just after I graduated, my fiancée discovered she was pregnant with our beautiful daughter, Emiliana (ph), who is now four months old.  I knew that with a growing family, I needed to double down on my job search, even with a bachelor’s degree.  So I signed up for veterans’ workshops, updated my resume, and attended dozens of job fairs.  But still, I struggled to find work.  
In all, I was unemployed for two and a half years before and after college.  But then, thanks to Paralyzed Veterans of America and their PAVE program, which provides support to all veterans who are looking for work, UPS hired me as a dispatch supervisor where I could use my management training I received from the Navy.  And after only four months on the job, UPS recognized my leadership skills and promoted me, where I’m responsible now for dispatching 75 drivers and optimizing our delivery schedule.  
UPS has given me the opportunity to build my career and provide financial support for my family.  I want to thank UPS and CEO Scott Davis, who is here today, for giving me this opportunity and making veteran-hiring a priority.  And I also want to salute all the companies here today who are making hiring veterans and their spouses a priority.  I only hope that more companies stand up for families like mine.
No one understands this better than our Commander-in-Chief and First Lady.  They have both made it their mission to support our troops, veterans and military families.  And now, I have the great pleasure to introduce them now.  
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our President, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please, everybody have a seat.  David, thank you so much for your introduction and sharing your story, but most importantly, thanks for your extraordinary service to our nation.  We are very, very proud of you.  
Thank you to our partners in crime -- (laughter) -- the outstanding Joe Biden, and the even more outstanding Jill Biden.  (Laughter and applause.)  We're grateful for their leadership, their commitment on a whole range of issues.  But I'm particularly grateful for the passion that Jill, you've shown when it comes to our military families, because you know what it’s like when a loved one is deployed.  And that passion comes through with everything you do.  So we're very, very proud of you. 
I also want to recognize the members of my Cabinet and Joint Chiefs and some of our top brass who are here.  We appreciate all the great work that they're doing.  And your presence reflects our commitment to this cause across the entire government.  
And now, I've got a simple task this morning, and that is to introduce the graceful, brilliant, inspiring love of my life -- (laughter) -- First Lady Michelle Obama.  Joe and I are just warm-up acts today, which in our families means it’s just another Tuesday.  (Laughter.)  That's how it generally goes.    
But of all the honors and privileges of serving as President, the opportunity to meet incredible people like David is among the things that I cherish the most.  David, being here today is representative of a 9/11 generation -- men and women who volunteered to put the uniform on even though they understood it was wartime, knowing full well they could be sent into harm’s way.  
And for more than a decade, they have answered every call, executing some of the most dangerous missions on the planet; operating some of the most cutting-edge, complex technologies known to man; leading their peers in moments where their decisions can determine life or death.  And, as we saw during the attacks in Boston, as Guardsmen and as veterans were racing towards danger, they put that courage and experience and skills that they’ve earned serving in our military to use every single day.  George Washington once said, “When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.”
Our troops and our military families who serve right alongside them keep us strong and they keep us safe.  And as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve pledged that just as they’ve left their homes and families to take care of us, we've got to make sure we're taking care of them when they come home.  That’s our sacred obligation:  To make sure that they get the care and the benefits and opportunities that they deserve.  And that includes economic opportunity -- good jobs worthy of their incredible talents.  
And as David indicated, unfortunately, 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.  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.  
Now, our economy is growing.  It's creating jobs on a consistent basis.  Although I just had a press conference -- we could be doing even better if we'd get a little more cooperation down the street.  But for post-9/11 veterans, employment continues to lag behind the national average -- and that's especially true for our youngest veterans.  And this does not make any sense.  
If you can save a life on the battlefield, then you sure as heck can save one in an ambulance in a state-of-the-art hospital.  If you can oversee a convoy of equipment and track millions of dollars of assets, then you can run a company’s supply chain or you can balance its books.  If you can lead a platoon in a war zone, then I think you can lead a team in a conference center.   
There are lots of extremely talented young people who are more than qualified for the jobs that businesses are looking to fill.  We've got the end of the Iraq war.  The war in Afghanistan is drawing to a close.  More than 1 million servicemembers are going to be transitioning back to civilian life in the coming years.  So we've got to do everything we can to make sure they have every opportunity to succeed.  
That’s why, a year and a half ago, I signed new tax credits for companies that hire unemployed veterans and Wounded Warriors.  And since then, the number of veterans hired through tax credits like these has more than doubled.  And my budgets proposed extending these tax credits permanently.  Congress needs to get that done.  
We’re working to help our troops earn the credentials they need for jobs in manufacturing and medicine and transportation.  We strengthened the Post-9/11 GI Bill, helping nearly 1 million veterans and military family members get a college education.  And for the first time in 20 years, we've overhauled the military’s Transition Assistance Program to help our newest veterans compete for those private sector jobs.  Our online Veterans Jobs Bank now has more than 2.5 million searchable job postings.  With our Veterans Gold Card, our veterans receive six months of personalized career counseling.  At my direction, the federal government has hired nearly 250,000 veterans. 
So we've made progress, but we know that government alone can't put every veteran and military spouse to work.  So about a year and a half ago, I went down to the Navy Yard and issued a challenge to America’s businesses:  Hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.  And I am proud to say that these companies stepped up.  And some of those companies are represented here today.  
In just a year, businesses had already hired 125,000 veterans or military spouses.  They committed to hiring 250,000 more.  Today, we’re announcing a major milestone in this effort, thanks in large part to the leadership of so many companies that are represented here today.  And we could not be more grateful for the commitments of these companies.  
Now, they're doing it partly because it's good business sense, because they're getting great employees.  But they're also doing it because they're patriots.  They're also doing it because they really care about this country and they understand that they don't succeed unless they've got an incredible military that's doing this. 
Hiring our veterans and military spouses is not just the patriotic thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.  They're looking for highly skilled workers.  Highly skilled veterans and military spouses are looking for jobs, let’s connect them up.  It’s good for families, it’s good for businesses, it’s good for our country.  
And that’s why Joining Forces is so important.  It’s a way for us to both honor and serve the men and women who have served us so well, but also to move the country forward.  That’s why we've all got to step up and do our parts -- government, business, schools, hospitals, community groups, houses of worship, neighbors, and obviously our military and our VA.  We've had to up our game, and we're not there yet, but we continually try to strive to improve to make sure we're doing the right thing.  And just as service and sacrifice defines our military families, serving our military families has to define who we are as Americans.  
Now, none of this could have happened had it not been for the extraordinary work that Michelle and Jill have engaged in over the last two years.  And that’s a call that we're renewing here today.  I've got to tell you, I'm proud of my wife all the time.  I could not be prouder of the work that she and Jill have done in this effort.  They have put their heart and their soul into it, they care about it deeply.  They identify so deeply with these military families because they understand the sacrifices that they're making.  
So with that, let me introduce a woman who I've seen live out that message every day as a wife and a mother, a tireless champion of military families, love her dearly -- my wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.  (Applause.) 
MRS. OBAMA:  Thanks so much.  (Applause.)  Thank you all.  Well, let me start by thanking the President of the United States for that nice introduction.  (Laughter.)  It's always nice to get a good introduction from the President, and from your husband.  But I want to thank you and Joe, because truly, we could not issue these challenges without leadership from the top.  And that’s something that Jill and I always say, is that we're out there on the front lines pushing this initiative, but the only way we get this done is because we've got strong leadership in our President and our Vice President.  
And, of course, to Jill, who is not just an extraordinary partner but a wonderful friend in this endeavor, not just working with our military families but in this interesting life that our husbands have gotten us into.  (Laughter.)  Jill is a true champion, and she's taught me a lot about what it means to serve, what it means to be part of the military community.  And I couldn’t be more grateful.
I also want to recognize all of the leaders from the administration, from the military and throughout the country, especially the veterans and military spouses who are here with us today.  Thank you all for your commitment and your service to this nation.  
And finally, I want to take a moment to say a special thank you to someone who didn’t know I was going to thank him, but who has been a cornerstone of this effort throughout this year in a difficult time -- when we've been in transition -- these two were running for something -- (laughter) -- but we couldn’t have kept this effort going without Captain Todd Veazie.  (Applause.)  And, believe it or not, today is Todd's last day as our Joining Forces executive director.  That’s another miracle -- the fact that we get so much done with sporadic support like Todd's.
And I want to make that point, because it's not just Jill and I, but Todd and a small team of others really keeps this going.  And this year has been a success because of you, so we decided as a reward, we would have you, as your last hurrah, to plan an event with every single one of your bosses -- (laughter) -- because we knew you could pull it off, because that’s what Navy SEALs do, right?  
But in Todd, we saw his skill, determination on display every single day.  And I'm just so proud.  We'll miss you here with Joining Forces.  So Todd and I just wanted to say thank you -- or, Barack and I wanted to say thank you.  (Laughter.)  You.  You, too.  (Laughter.)  At least I caught that one.  (Laughter.)  But we are grateful and impressed by your talent, integrity, and the incredible work ethic that you've shown to make this possible.  Todd!  (Applause.)  Very bashful.  We kept that out of the remarks so that you wouldn’t know that it was there.  
But really, the same thing can be said -- all those wonderful traits in Todd -- can be said of all the servicemembers and military spouses we have had the honor of meeting over these past four years.  These men and women are some of the most talented, accomplished, dedicated people you will ever meet. 
And that’s why, two years ago, when the four of us came together to launch Joining Forces right here in this very room, our goal was to create an initiative that was worthy of their character and their service.  We challenged every segment of our society to stand up and take action and make a real commitment to support and serve our military families.  And since then, this nation has truly joined forces in so many amazing ways. 
We have seen doctors and nurses take bold new steps to care for the families affected by PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.  We’ve seen colleges sign up to train teachers to be more responsive to the needs of our military children in their classrooms.  We’ve seen community groups and houses of worship and citizens from every walk of life show their appreciation for our military families, not just with words but with deeds. 
And today, we are here to recognize the tremendous efforts of businesses all across the country.  Together, we have been partnering to do everything in our power to help our veterans and military families find the jobs they need and deserve.  
These efforts are about so much more than a paycheck.  This is about giving these men and women a source of identity and purpose.  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.  
So as we reflect on our accomplishments to date and challenge ourselves to do more, it’s important to remember what’s at stake with all this.  It’s important to remind ourselves every single day what this employment effort is really all about.  
And that’s exactly what we did two years ago when the President issued this challenge.  Because every time we looked at those veterans’ unemployment numbers, every time we heard another story about someone who had taken incoming fire on a combat patrol but couldn’t get an HR rep to take their calls, every time we talked to a military spouse who had been transferred far too many times to build a decent career, we became even more determined to make this right. 
So with that challenge, we all snapped into action.  And since then, it seems like every week -- quite frankly, every day -- someone new gets involved in this effort.  There hasn’t been a "no" from anyone.  And today, I am thrilled to announce that in less than two years, America’s businesses have hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses -- (applause) -- which is almost triple the original goal with eight months to spare. 
And we are also proud to announce that American companies have committed to hire or train another 435,000 of these men and women over the next five years.  (Applause.)  And we are so grateful to all of the business leaders here today who are a part of this effort.  
These commitments come from companies of every shape and size.  BNSF Railroad is hiring 5,000 veterans in the next 5 years.  UPS, hiring 25,000.  Home Depot, 55,000.  McDonald’s is hiring 100,000 in the next three years.  Deloitte is doubling its veterans hiring over the next three years.
USAA is pledging that 30 percent of its new hires will be veterans or military spouses.  Walmart is telling any veteran who has served honorably that if they want a job in the year after they separate from service, Walmart is going to hire them.  And their goal is to do it within 30 days of the veteran’s application.
The Blackstone Group has challenged each of its 50,000 hiring managers at affiliated businesses to hire at least one more veteran.  AT&T is creating an online, military exchange for a group of businesses so that if one company can't hire a veteran at that moment, they can connect them to someone who can.
The International Franchise Association has helped more than 4,300 veterans own their own businesses since 2011.  And right now as we speak, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is holding its 400th career fair since last March, fulfilling a commitment that it made to us a year ago.
So we are thrilled with all the new, innovative ideas and we’re in awe of the meaningful employment commitments.  But ultimately, these companies aren’t just committing to a number –- they’re committing people, people like David.  Right here in this room, there are so many stories like his.  So I’d like to take just a moment to tell a few of these stories.  And as I call your name, I want you to stand and remain standing. 
Staff Sergeant Shaun Murphy, please stand.  Shaun is an eight-year Army veteran who transitioned to become a sixth-grade special-ed teacher in Delaware for three years.  (Applause.)  A little shout-out to Delaware.  He’s working for Teach For America, and today, he has been promoted to lead Teach For America’s nationwide effort to hire more veterans as teachers -- yes, indeed.  He’s doing it all because, as he said, “When you hang up those fatigues and put those boots away, you don’t want to feel like you’ve given up your sense of service.”  
And then there’s Staff Sergeant Courtney Beard.  (Applause.)  Courtney has served in the New Jersey Air National Guard for six years, including a deployment in Iraq.  But when she’s not serving on active duty, she’s putting her skills as an intelligence analyst to use at Cisco as a network consulting engineer -- small, but tough.  (Laughter.)  And really smart.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  
And then there’s Chryssy Johnson, who is on stage with us.  Chryssy is a mother and an Army wife from San Antonio.  Her family has been transferred three different times over nine years, leaving Chryssy scrambling for jobs at restaurants or call centers or beauty counters.  But USAA gave her a shot to build a career, and today, she is a financial -- a senior financial foundations specialist on her way to earning her MBA.  Yes.  (Applause.)   
And then there’s Sergeant Erick Varela.  Erick served in combat infantry for the 82nd Airborne Division, and was deployed two times to the Middle East.  But when he came home to California in the middle of the housing crisis, Erick couldn’t find a job.  And soon, he and his wife found themselves homeless.  
But fortunately, Erick was accepted in an electrical apprenticeship program in San Francisco.  And even though he and his wife were living out of his pickup truck at that time, Erick was able to pinch enough pennies to buy enough gas to drive to and from that class and finish that program.  And today, he’s employed full-time at PG&E, even taking on leadership roles within his crew.  And now, Erick is hoping to buy a home for their growing family.  And we are so proud.  (Applause.)
These veterans and military families are talented, resilient, disciplined, and they are ready to do the job no matter what it takes.  And these characteristics connect every single veteran and military spouse in this room.  So I’d like to ask all of our veterans and military spouses here today to please stand if they are able so we can give you all a round of applause.  (Applause.)  Thank you all so much.  
Stories like these are not just in this room, but they’re all around us.  Across America and around the world, our men and women in uniform and their families are standing up for us.  They’re standing up for our values, our security, our communities.  And in so many ways, all they’re looking for is another way to serve.  All they need is that next mission.  All they need is a job.  
So, to every business leader in this room and throughout the country, I just want you to remember these stories every single day.  Think about all of the skills these men and women possess, all the people they've led, all the risks they've taken and sacrifices they've endured for us.  And then I want you to ask yourselves, what more can you do for these men and women -- what more can you do?  
If you own a small business, can you commit to hiring a few veterans, maybe even just one?  If you own a larger company, can you hire a few hundred, maybe a few thousand?  Can you retain the veterans already in your workforce so that they are able to grow within your company?  Can you team up with other businesses to hire more veterans all across this country?
And again, I just want to reiterate that my husband and I, we're in this with you.  Jill and Joe, we're in this with you.  We're going to keep working to do what we can to develop new programs and partnerships at the federal level that can help you all put these men and women to work even faster.  Because while we're proud of how far we've come, we know that today is not the finish line.  Today is simply just a mile marker, and we're not going to stop until every single veteran or military spouse that is searching for a job has found one.
These men and women have stood up for us again and again and again.  So now the question is, will we do the same for them?  And everything that we have seen in these past two years gives me confidence that the answer is absolutely yes.  You live in a grateful nation, and people will stand up.  
So to all the business leaders, I just want to say thank you all.  Thank you for getting us this far.  And to the veterans and military families here in this room and around the country, thank you, again.  We can't thank you enough for your courage and your service.  We will stand with you now and for decades to come.
Thank you all.  God bless.
12:30 P.M. EDT