First Lady Michelle Obama thinks veteran women “can’t be modest” when it comes to seeking employment.
“You’ve got to show off a little bit,” the First Lady told a group of over 200 active-duty, retired, and veteran women on Monday. “And believe me, you all have so much to show off. That’s the beauty of it — those years in the military set you apart from so many other candidates.”
Obama gave that advice at a forum on veteran women’s employment where, as a part of the ongoing “Joining Forces initiative,” the First Lady announced new partnerships with online platforms that will make the job-seeking process easier for those who serve our country.
More women serve in the military than ever before, and as of 2014 about 10% of our nation’s veterans are women. But our most recent female veterans—those who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq—faced an unemployment rate of 11.2% in October, more than five points higher than their male counterparts and double the rate of civilian women. In a recent article in Redbook, the First Lady put the struggles of women at the center of the conversation on veterans’ transition back to civilian life. Many female service members have not only been mothers, but single moms, making the stresses women face when transitioning even harder.
The Obama Administration has been working to expand opportunities for veterans since the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden launched “Joining Forces” in 2011. Last spring, the introduction of the “Veterans Employment Center,” a new website that helps veterans find and apply for jobs, put increasing career prospects at the center of the initiative.
The LinkedIn and Coursera initiatives are intended to expand those prospects by connecting veterans with work. Veterans on LinkedIn now will receive free access to a premium job-seeker profile and can link those profiles directly to the veteran-specific job hub. On Coursera, an online education platform, veterans can now receive a free certificate from an in-demand course.
Other companies including tech powerhouse Uber have started vets programs. In September, Uber launched an ambitious effort to hire 50,000 veterans as drivers over the next 18 months.