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A Big Week for Joining Forces

Companies across the country make new commitments to join forces and hire thousands of veterans.

Through Joining Forces, Americans continue to step up and respond to the First Lady and Dr. Biden's call to serve our troops and their families as well as they have served us.

Last week, the Department of the Interior joined forces with the First Lady and Dr. Biden to provide free access to more than 2,000 of America's parks to our troops and their families. Then on Monday of this week, Blue Star Families and the National Endowment for the Arts launched "Blue Star Museums" --  laying out the welcome mat for free access at more than 1,600 museums around the country for service members and military families.

Connecting veterans and military spouses with employment opportunities in the private sector has been a priority for the First Lady and Dr. Biden,  and the effort is paying off. In the last year, more than 1,600 companies have hired more than 70,000 veterans and military spouses through Joining Forces.

Just last week, 34 more companies and organizations joined forces with the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), a partnership of more than 130 companies committed to hire and retain military spouses. Since June of last year, MSEP companies have hired more than 22,000 military spouses.

And the momentum keeps building. Check out Joining Forces employment efforts in just the last three days:

  • On Tuesday, the International Franchising Association (IFA) announced that veteran franchise ownership had leaped in the last year -- more than 4,000 new veteran franchise owners (a whopping 35% increase in one year).
  • From Tuesday through Thursday, Disney invited more veterans to parks and sites in Orlando, Florida; Burbank, California and New York City for hiring expos. Just 10 weeks ago, Disney committed to hire 1,000 veterans in the next three years and have already hired more than 250 veterans.
  • On Thursday, Sears partnered with the Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) to hold a hiring fair just for veterans and military spouses in Chicago -- attracting more than 750 people and 37 companies. In the last year, Sears has hired more than 2,200 veterans and military spouses.
  • The Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes Program held hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses in Parkersville, West Virginia; Warwick, Rhode Island; Moline, Illinois; Baltimore, Maryland; and Meriwether Country, Georgia and on May 30th, they'll be hiring military spouses in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • Companies are connecting with veterans and spouses virtually. Milicruit is leading a hiring effort with more than 30 companies to hire 10,000 veterans and spouses by 2013. On Wednesday, they held a virtual hiring fair for veterans and military spouses. Interviews are ongoing and the connection is working -- more than 4,000 veterans and military spouses have landed a job through Milicruit's efforts in just three months. Find out more about Milicruit and other Joining Forces resources here.

The list of companies joining forces with the First Lady and Dr. Biden continues to grow. On Wednesday, Command Security Corporation committed to hire 1,500 veterans by the end of 2013 and yesterday, Philips North America -- an enormous company that employs more than 100,000 workers throughout the nation -- joined forces to focus on hiring veterans and military spouses.

While there is great momentum, much more work remains. Connecting America's heroes and their families with the job opportunities they have earned will continue to be a top priority for the First Lady and Dr. Biden.

America's veterans and their families have given this nation so much. Now it's our turn to give back - and America's businesses are helping to lead the way.

Learn more about Joining Forces initiative: Visit, like Joining Forces on Facebook and follow @JoiningForces on Twitter.