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Helping Employers Connect to Job Seeking Service Members, Veterans and Their Families

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on April 23, 2014 | 12:54 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell on Wednesday at a comprehensive Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum. 

The First Lady and Dr. Biden's message was clear: our commitment to our service members and their families does not end when their service does, which is why they launched Joining Forces three years ago this month.

Since then, companies who have made commitments to Joining Forces have hired over half a million (540,000) veterans and military spouses. Commitments from America’s biggest firms like UPS, who announced a doubling of their commitment to 50,000 new hires and Xerox who will has committed to hire 10,000 veterans and spouses over the next five years.

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Obama Administration Launches Online Veterans Employment Center: One-Stop-Shop Connects Veterans, Transitioning Service Members, and their Spouses to Employers

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on April 23, 2014 | 12:35 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

One-Stop-Shop Connects Veterans, Transitioning Service Members, and their Spouses to Employers

At today’s anniversary celebration of Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced the launch of a new integrated employment tool to connect veterans and service members with employers, and to help translate military skills into the civilian workforce.  The Veterans Employment Center, an integrated, online tool connecting veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses with both public and private-sector employers, is the result of an interagency effort to improve, simplify and consolidate the current array of employment resources for veterans.  Additionally, this will provide one comprehensive database of resumes for employers who are seeking to leverage the skills and talents of veterans, service members, and their spouses.

“Our service members haven’t always had the time or information they needed to prepare their resumes, to plot their career goals, to meet with employers and get the jobs they deserve. And that’s simply not acceptable,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “As my husband has said, when you’ve fought for this country around the world, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you return home.  Starting today, every single service member, every veteran, and every military family will have access to a new online tool that will revolutionize how you find jobs in both the public and private sectors.  All you have to do is log on to ebenefits.va.gov.”

“Veterans deserve an authoritative source for connecting with employers,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The online Veterans Employment Center is the single, federal source for veterans looking for new career opportunities, service members transitioning to the civilian workforce, and spouses and beneficiaries looking to connect with job opportunities.”

The new online resource, called the Veterans Employment Center, is the first interagency tool to bring a wealth of public and private job opportunities, a resume-builder, military skills translator and detailed career and training resources together in one place.  In connection with the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, the Department of Veterans Affairs worked with employers, the Departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and the Office of Personnel Management to design and develop the site and incorporate features of existing online employment tools within government.

The result is an integrated solution providing veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses with the tools they need to connect to employers. With this tool, employers will be able to search and view Veteran, Service Member, and spouse resumes in one comprehensive location. 

"Our service members transitioning to civilian life, as well as their spouses, deserve the resources they need to be successful," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. "Through this effort, they are getting that help. Our troops and their spouses are proven leaders, highly-skilled and hard-working. Employers hiring them are getting the best this nation has to offer."

“Improving veterans’ employment is an all-hands-on-deck enterprise,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “With more than 1 million service members projected to leave the military in the coming years, the Veterans Employment Center, along with the wealth of services the Department of Labor offers through its 2,500 American Job Centers, will connect our veterans and service members with both public and private sector employers eager to hire those with military experience.”

“OPM’s USAJobs program is excited to be partnering with the VA on making this a robust tool for our nation's veterans and transitioning service members seeking Federal employment,” said OPM Director, Katherine Archuleta. “It has been more than four years since President Obama established the Veterans Employment Initiative and, in that time, the Executive Branch of Government hired the highest percentage of military veterans in more than 20 years – of the 195,000 new employees hired in FY 2012, approximately 56,000 were veterans, equaling 28.9 percent of total hires. We can continue to honor and show our appreciation for the dedicated and heroic service of America’s veterans by ensuring that they have every opportunity to continue their service to this great nation as Federal civilian employees. The Veterans Employment Center helps us honor these men and women by making employment opportunities available when our servicemen and women lay down their uniforms.”

The Veterans Employment Center will provide employers with access to a targeted pool of resumes from veterans and transitioning service members, allowing them to search resumes to identify veterans with skill sets applicable to civilian employment at their organization, and to track progress towards reaching their veteran hiring goals.  Resumes are visible to all employers with an active LinkedIn or Google profile.  To prevent spam, an applicant’s name and email address are redacted and only visible to employers verified by the VA as registered companies with the IRS.  The site is also built using open data and an open application programming interface to attract private-sector innovation.

Joining Forces is a national initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden to engage all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. In addition, Dr. Biden launched the Military Spouse Employment Partnership in June 2011 with just under 60 companies. Today, Dr. Biden announced there are 228 partner employers, more than 1.8 million jobs posted on the MSEP Career Portal and more than 60,000 military spouse hires.

The Veterans Employment Center can be found at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs

For a tutorial video on how to use the Veterans Employment Center, please visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWfhI-eSoWk.

President Obama Holds a Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on April 23, 2014 | 12:12 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
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Joint Statement on the Anniversary of Rana Plaza Building Collapse in Bangladesh

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release (US Trade Representative) on April 23, 2014 | 5:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
The text of the following statement was released by the Department of State, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labor. Begin Text:

Joint Statement on the Anniversary of Rana Plaza Building Collapse in Bangladesh

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release (US Trade Representative) on April 23, 2014 | 5:00 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
The text of the following statement was released by the Department of State, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labor. Begin Text:

Statement by the Press Secretary on South Sudan

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on April 22, 2014 | 10:53 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu.  Images and accounts of the attacks shock the conscience: stacks of bodies found dead inside a mosque, patients murdered at a hospital, and dozens more shot and killed in the streets and at a church -- apparently due to their ethnicity and nationality -- while hate speech was broadcast on local radio.  Bulldozers have buried the dead in mass graves, and the number of people seeking protection at the United Nations camp in Bentiu has grown from 8,000 to more than 22,000 in only two weeks.  We are equally appalled by the armed attack last week at the UN Mission in South Sudan site in Bor that killed at least 48 civilians and injured dozens more.

These acts of violence are an abomination.  They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders.  This is exactly the violence and suffering the South Sudanese people fought for decades to escape.  Both President Kiir and Riek Machar must make clear that attacks on civilians are unacceptable, perpetrators of violence on both sides must be brought to justice, and the cycle of violence that has plagued South Sudan for too long must come to an end.

President Obama Speaks on Responding to the Mudslide in Washington State

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on April 22, 2014 | 8:29 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
President Obama delivers remarks at the Oso Firehouse after viewing the devastation from the recent mudslide in the area and meeting with the families affected by this disaster, as well as...
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Statement by the President on the Mudslide Devastation in Washington State

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on April 22, 2014 | 8:08 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Oso Firehouse
Oso, Washington

4:13 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  I just had a chance to tour some of the damage from last month’s mudslide.  And, most importantly, I had a chance to spend some time with the families whose loved ones have been lost.  I also had a chance to thank some of the amazing first responders, the firefighters, police officers, search and rescue crews, and members of the Washington National Guard who have been working around the clock to help this community recover from this devastating incident.

Governor Inslee, Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Congresswoman DelBene, Congressman Larsen, and the rest of the elected officials who are here, they’ve been relentless in making sure that Oso had the resources that it needs.  And from the day of the tragedy, I’ve instructed my team to make sure that they get what they need to make sure that the search and rescue mission is going forward the way it should.

A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team was on the ground immediately after the mudslide, and a search and rescue team was deployed to help locate and recover victims.  We immediately approved an emergency declaration to provide additional resources to state and local responders.  And I followed that by approving a major disaster declaration to help residents and business owners rebuild, and to help state and local and tribal governments with emergency work. 

Today, that work continues.  There are still families who are searching for loved ones.  There are families who have lost everything, and it’s going to be a difficult road ahead for them.  And that’s why I wanted to come here -- just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy. 

We’re not going anywhere.  We’ll be here as long as it takes.  Because while very few Americans have ever heard of Oso before the disaster struck, we’ve all been inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together and shown the love and support that they have for each other in ways large and small. 

Over the past month, we’ve seen neighbors and complete strangers donate everything from chainsaws to rain jackets to help with the recovery effort.  We’ve seen families cook meals for rescue workers.  We’ve seen volunteers pull 15-hour days, searching through mud up to 70 feet deep.  One resident said, “We’re Oso.  We just do it.”  That’s what this community is all about.  And I think the outstanding work of Sheriff Willy Harper here helping to coordinate all of this -- I was saying, he’s a pretty young sheriff, but he has shouldered this burden in an incredible way.  And we’re very, very proud of him, as we are of all the local responders. 

This is family.  And these are folks who love this land, and it’s easy to see why -- because it’s gorgeous.  And there’s a way of life here that’s represented.  And to see the strength in adversity of this community I think should inspire all of us, because this is also what America is all about. 

When times get tough, we look out for each other.  We get each other’s backs.  And we recover and we build, and we come back stronger.  And we’re always reminded that we’re greater together.  That’s how we’ll support each other every step of the way.

I have to say that the families that I met with showed incredible strength and grace through unimaginable pain and difficulty.  Uniformly, though, they all wanted to say thank you to the first responders.  They were deeply appreciative of the efforts that everybody has made.  And I know that many of the first responders have heard that directly, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat that we’re very appreciative of what you’ve done.

And I also want to say that some terrific lessons were learned in the midst of very hard times during this process, because almost uniquely, we had not just coordination between state, local and federal officials, but also coordination between volunteers and those officials.  And I know that it required some improvisation and some kinks getting worked out, but it was important for the family members themselves and the community themselves to be hands-on and participate in this process -- particularly a community like this one where folks are hearty and know how to do things, and take great pride in being self-reliant.  It was important that they weren’t just bystanders in this process, they were involved every step of the way.

One last point I’ll make.  I’ve received a number of letters from residents -- either Darrington, or Arlington, or Oso itself -- over the last several weeks, and one in particular struck me.  It was from a firefighter who I may have met today; he didn’t identify himself.  But he pointed out how those who were operating the heavy machinery during this whole process did so with an incredible care and delicacy because they understood that this wasn’t an ordinary job, this wasn’t just a matter of moving earth; that this was a matter of making sure that we were honoring and respecting the lives that had been impacted.

And two things were of note in that letter:  Number one, that this firefighter pointed out properly the incredible work that’s been done under very tough circumstances.  Number two, he was pointing out what others were doing, not what he was doing.  And to see a community come together like this and not be interested in who’s getting credit, but just making sure that the job gets done, that says a lot about the character of this place. 

And so we’re very, very proud of all of you.  Michelle and I grieve with you.  The whole country is thinking about you.  And we’re going to make sure that we’re there every step of the way as we go through the grieving, the mourning, the recovery.  We’re going to be strong right alongside you. 

Thank you very much.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
4:21 P.M. PDT

Recognizing Green Schools on Earth Day

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on April 22, 2014 | 5:59 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
 U.S. Department of Education)

Students gardening at an elementary school. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Ed. note: This is cross-posted at the U.S. Department of Education's Homeroom blog. See the original post here.

To celebrate Earth Day, earlier today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and District Sustainability Award recipients.

Joined in an online live stream by Acting Chief White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots, Secretary Duncan celebrated the 48 schools and 9 school districts chosen for their exemplary efforts in reducing environmental impact and utility costs, promoting better health for students and staff, and offering effective environmental education, including civics, STEM, and green career pathways.

Reiterating the Department’s support for green schools, Secretary Duncan praised the selected schools and districts, stating: “Today’s honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green by encompassing facility, wellness and learning into their daily operations.” Duncan went on to say that the recipients “are demonstrating ways schools can simultaneously cut costs; improve health, and engage students with hands-on learning that prepares them with the thinking skills necessary to be successful in college and careers.

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Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One En Route Oso, Washington, 4/22/2014

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on April 22, 2014 | 3:57 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Oso, Washington

11:21 A.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY:  Good morning.  Welcome aboard Air Force One.  As you know, we’re headed to the great state of Washington, where the President will be viewing the devastation from the recent mudslide and meeting with the families affected by the disaster there, as well as with first responders and recovery workers.  What they’ve been through has been devastating, and the President looks forward to spending some time with families, with first responders, and also, obviously, looking at what happened in the aftermath of the mudslide.

After that, we head to Tokyo, Japan to begin our four-nation, multi-day Asian tour. 

That’s all I have at the top.  Any questions?  Or should we just get back to movies and food?  (Laughter.) 

Q    Jay, the South Korean military has reported increased activity around the site of a North Korean nuclear area.  Is North Korea preparing for a nuclear test of some sort?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, Mark, as I said yesterday, we closely monitor actions such as that.  North Korea has a history of taking provocative actions, and we are always mindful of the possibility that such an action could be taken.  Depending on what it is and what they do, if they do anything, it would most likely be in violation of numerous commitments that the DPRK is bound by.  But of course, that is something that they have, unfortunately, done many times.

Q    Do you have any evidence to support the concerns of the South Koreans?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not in a position to discuss the information we have and how we evaluate what’s happening in North Korea.  We’ve certainly seen the public reports and the press reports.  And again, I would note that there is a kind of cyclical nature to the provocative actions that North Korea tends to take, and we’ll be watching it very closely.

Q    Can I ask also, in reference to Japan, the Prime Minister sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, which is controversial and has raised concerns among Japan’s Asian neighbors and U.S. allies such as South Korea.  Does that action cause any difficulties ahead of the President’s trip to the region where, after all, one of his goals is to sort of repair relations?

MR. CARNEY:  We have an enormously important alliance with Japan, and the President is looking forward to his visit there.  I believe there’s been several briefings, including at the State Department, in advance of the trip so I don’t have anything specific in reaction to that, but I would refer you to the State Department and to others.  And we’ll be talking to you guys, obviously, once we get to Japan.

Q    Jay, on North Korea, but a slightly different front, obviously.  The U.N. published a report relatively recently about the human rights violations they’ve committed, and there was a discussion about how much, for example, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. would take in terms of pressing for establishing some sort of structure on the idea that eventually people could be held accountable for that.  Could you give us any sense of where that stands or whether that’s one of the topics that will be on the President’s agenda as he meets with both the Prime Minister of Japan and the President in South Korea?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, there’s no question that North Korea is a nation that violates human rights -- the human rights of its own citizens.  It’s one of the most oppressive nations in the region and on the planet.  It’s also one of the most closed societies and opaque societies.  It’s the kind of subject that is frequently discussed in meetings between government officials of the United States and South Korea, and I would expect that would be one of the topics of discussion when we’re in Seoul. 

Q    Jay, is it the expectation that if sanctions are ramped up that the Japanese would be on board and remain unified?  Or is there work that the administration is going to have to do on this trip to try and ensure that?

MR. CARNEY:  You refer to sanctions on Russia with --

Q    Sectoral sanctions.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me first make clear that under the three executive orders, the administration, the President have a great deal of flexibility and capacity to impose additional sanctions in a way that responds to escalation by Russia with escalated costs for Russia.  And that would be up to and including, potentially, sectoral sanctions -- what are described as sectoral sanctions.  But there are other kinds of sanctions that can be imposed to individuals and entities.  And the importance of the executive orders is that they, taken together, allow for that flexibility. 

We’ve said that Russia needs to comply with the commitments it made in the agreement signed in Geneva -- an agreement signed by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU -- and we are calling on all parties to comply with the commitments they’ve made.  And we would note that the Ukrainian government is doing its part to deescalate the situation there by making clear that it intends to offer amnesty to those who have taken up weapons and occupied buildings if they lay down their arms and vacate the buildings, and to pursue constitutional reform, and to take very seriously the concerns of those in some of the regions outside of Kyiv and eastern and southern Ukraine in terms of their relative -- their relationship with the center.

So the Ukrainian government has acted responsibly and seriously, and we commend them for that.  And we call on Russia to use the influence that Russia has on the armed militants who have seized buildings and blockaded roads and stockpiled weapons to pressure them to give up their weapons and to vacate the buildings.  And we will watch very closely in the coming days to see if those commitments are honored, and then will take action as necessary, if necessary, when it comes to imposing further costs.

Q    How much longer is the U.S. prepared to wait before it decides whether or not to go ahead and impose additional sanctions?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have a specific deadline to provide to you.  As I said yesterday and again today, we’re going to evaluate this in coming days.  As you know, the Vice President visited Ukraine, was in Kyiv, and announced additional assistance that we’re providing to Ukraine, made clear our support for the people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government in this challenging time.  And meanwhile, we, with our European and G7 partners, are closely monitoring the situation on the ground.

Q    Has the U.S. made any sort of timeline to Russia in expectation of when you would want to see progress of deescalating tensions?  Does Russia know when you expect to see things change?

MR. CARNEY:  I think Russia understands that the United States, the EU and our G7 partners are serious about the need for all parties to the agreement to take steps to deescalate the situation in Ukraine and that, should Russia continue to engage in provocative actions, continue to support the separatists -- the so-called separatists, or the armed irregular militias in portions of Ukraine who have seized buildings, that there will be further costs imposed on Russia. 

And we’ve discussed many times what Russia needs to do, which is use their influence to help deescalate the situation.  That includes their influence directly on those who have seized buildings, also to remove their troops from their position on the border in a manner that is consistent with their disposition prior to this crisis, and to take other steps to engage with Ukraine together with international partners in a dialogue building on Geneva so that we can move forward, and that the -- so the Ukrainian people can move forward with stabilizing their economy, participating in presidential elections on May 25th, and getting about the business that the Ukrainian government has committed itself to of instituting reforms and dealing with corruption and all the other challenges that Ukraine faces.

Q    Can we go back to North Korea for a second?  If there is any sort of a nuclear test, is there any talk of changing the President’s itinerary at all?

MR. CARNEY:  We’re monitoring events closely and mindful of Pyongyang’s propensity to take provocative actions, but I’m not going to speculate about that. 

Q    On the mudslide, obviously the President is expressing his sympathy and appreciation for the first responders and for the families there.  Is there any policy that he’s going to discuss, or specific, concrete actions the federal government is going to take in response to the accident?

MR. CARNEY:  The administration remains focused on supporting the state and local efforts, and first responders.  Earlier this month, as you know, the President declared a major disaster in the state of Washington and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts.  This assistance is in addition to the support provided under the presidential emergency declaration granted on March 24th, 2014.  And we -- the President has, rather, directed his team to stay in close touch with our federal partners as well as state and local officials leading the response.

So I think the purpose of the visit, which will include remarks delivered at the Oso firehouse, is to view firsthand the aftermath of the terrible mudslide there, and to meet directly with those who lost loved ones and have suffered so much in this terrible tragedy.

Q    Has the President and Vice President spoken since the Vice President went to Kyiv?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t know that they have spoken directly; they may have.  I think the Vice President was in Kyiv until very recently; I’m not sure of the timing of his departure.  But the President is obviously well-briefed on and focused on developments there and on the assistance that the Vice President announced in Kyiv, and the support that we’re giving to the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government.

Q    Jay, there’s an economic forum I think in St. Petersburg in a couple of weeks.  There’s a number of major U.S. CEOs slated to attend -- Boeing, Citi, Goldman.  Is that a concern at all for the administration?  And what’s kind of the outreach to private business when it comes to Russia?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not aware of that conference so I’ll have to direct you to the Treasury Department.  But I think that the administration has engaged with companies that have sought information about the steps that we’ve taken.  Treasury might have more for you on that. 

Obviously, how severe the sanctions will be will depend on how much Russia wants to continue to engage in activity that supports the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  So it’s hard to speculate or to know all the costs that will be imposed on Russia because, obviously, Russia does have the opportunity to avoid further costs if it participates in a positive way in deescalating the situation there. 

Q    How does the White House view today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on -- Michigan’s ban on affirmative action at universities?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, we’re still reviewing the ruling, which just came down.  So I don’t have a specific reaction.  Generally speaking, as you know, the President believes that diversity in the classroom is important for students, campuses and schools.  In an increasingly multicultural society and global economy, it is more important than ever that America’s students be exposed to a wide array of ideas and perspectives to prepare them for success.

As you know, the President has said that while he opposes quotas and thinks an emphasis on universal and not race-specific programs is good policy, considering race, along with other factors, can be appropriate in certain circumstances.  But we don’t have a specific reaction to the ruling.

END
11:37 A.M. EDT

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