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First lady says to veterans: 'America has your back'

By Susan Essoyan

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:43 p.m. HST, Nov 14, 2011


First lady Michelle Obama, appearing at a "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair at Hickam Air Force Base today, pumped up the crowd by assuring veterans that "America has your back" as they leave the service.

"For a lot of folks, making the transition to civilian life is hard especially in the midst of a tough economy," she said. "I know it can be daunting and incredibly stressful to walk away from an institution where you have invested so much of yourselves.
 
"Here is something else that I know. All of you are some of the highest skilled, hardest working, most dedicated  employees that we have in this country. And that's important for this country to know."
 
Her appearance coincided with the "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair sponsored by the U.S. and Hawaii chambers of commerce, one of 100 being held across the country this year to help veterans and military family members land jobs. The first lady returned to Washington, D.C. sometime this afternoon after her appearance.
 
The crowd, some in uniform, and some bringing their children along, waited patiently for the first lady's arrival on the lawn outside the Hickam Officers' Club, standing in the sun for nearly an hour, listening to an Air Force band play pop tunes. They erupted in cheers at the sight of her.
 
"I'm happy to see her here doing good things," said Denise Wahinekapu, an Air Force retiree.  
 
There were 53 employers at the job fair, ranging from E Noa Tours to Bank of Hawaii to GameStop, and more than 500 people came to check it out. So far, 68 "Hiring Our Heroes" fairs have been held across the country and 3,600 people have found jobs, according to Kevin Schmiegel, vice president of veterans employment programs for the U.S. Chamber.
 
"What you see is not just success at the hiring fairs in terms of placements but the creation of  a movement across the country," Schmiegel said. "When the tables are folded up and the chairs are put away … all these employers become engaged on this issue of hiring veterans and military spouses, not just because it's the right thing to do but because it's right for business."






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