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First Lady Michelle Obama Challenges Governors to Ease Service Members' Transition to Civilian Work Force

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden call on Governors to streamline credentialing and licensing for service members, veterans and their spouses.


Too often the talented men and women who have served our country face barriers that make it difficult to find jobs that capitalize on the skills they have gained through their military education and experience. Many service members and veterans are required to repeat education or training in order to receive industry certifications and state occupational licenses, even though much, and in some cases, all, of their military training and experience overlaps with credential requirements.

The members of our Armed Forces and their families make great sacrifices, and when their service is concluded, we owe it to our veterans and their families to help them accomplish a successful transition to the civilian labor force. That is why over the past year and a half, President Obama has taken significant action to create a “career-ready military” and streamline the transition process.

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden highlighted the work that has been done across the country to change laws that require military spouses to attain new credentials when they move to a new state, and challenged the governors of all 50 states to take legislative or executive action to help our troops get the credentials they need by the end of 2015. Speaking to the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room, Mrs. Obama talked about the pressing need to take action and fulfill our responsibilities to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much over the past decade:

In the coming years, more than one million service members will make the transition to civilian life. 

Think about that – a million people hanging up their uniforms… figuring out what’s next… and doing everything they can to make that change as seamless as possible for their families.

So the fact is, while this time of war may be ending, our responsibilities to our troops and their families will only be ramping up.

And that’s what I want to talk to you about today—how we can fulfill what is perhaps our most pressing responsibility to our troops: making sure that when they come home, they can find a job—and not just any job, but a good job, a job they can raise a family on.

Last year, the Department of Defense established the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force at the direction of President Obama. The group has identified and created opportunities for service members to earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses, focusing their efforts on well-paying industries and occupations that have a high demand for skilled workers, including: manufacturing; information technology; transportation and logistics; health care; and emergency medical services.

Moving forward, the Task Force will be expanding its efforts to assist states in translating military training and experience into credit towards professional licensure. The objectives of this initiative will be to accelerate states’ occupational licensing processes and to streamline approaches for assessing the equivalency of military training and experience.

Ensuring that our service members leave the military with the ability to transfer their education and training to the civilian job market and can use their skills in whatever state they choose to call home isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do for our economy, as the First Lady pointed out:

If we do this, we won’t just be upholding our values and honoring our troops… we’ll be lowering the unemployment rate.

We’ll be improving our health care system.

We’ll be boosting economic growth in this country. 

And we’ll be strengthening our country not just for now, but for the years ahead.

And in the end, that’s really what Joining Forces is all about. 

It’s not just about supporting our heroes while they’re on the battlefield. 

It’s about standing with them ...and their families when they come home. It's a forever commitment

Learn more about Joining Forces, the initiative created to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.