WASHINGTON (AP) - First lady Michelle Obama is traveling to the electoral battleground of Florida on Wednesday to announce that 2,000 businesses around the country have hired or trained more than 125,000 military veterans and spouses in the past year, exceeding a White House goal of 100,000 by the end of next year.
Buoyed by those numbers, Mrs. Obama planned to announce that the same companies have committed to hire or train an additional 250,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014, the White House said. That includes hiring or training 50,000 military spouses within three years - and helping them keep those jobs as families move from one duty station to another.
"More and more businesses are recognizing that hiring veterans is good for their bottom line, and they are making bold commitments to bring veterans into their ranks," said Brad Cooper, executive director of the first lady's Joining Forces effort.
Mrs. Obama planned to announce the new commitments at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville. She was to be joined by Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, chief of naval personnel.
In April 2011, the first lady and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, launched Joining Forces to encourage Americans to support military families and veterans. The White House said the hiring push has helped to reduce unemployment among veterans from 8.6 percent in July 2011 to 6.9 percent last month.
Labor Department statistics show the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is at 8.9 percent, above the national rate of 8.3 percent. For veterans under 24, the unemployment rate was 19.9 percent in July.