Dr. Jill Biden spoke with TODAY’s Ann Curry Wednesday aboard New York City's USS Intrepid, where the Hiring for Heroes job fair was in full swing. A Blue Star mom, Biden has teamed up with first lady Michelle Obama on the White House’s Joining Forces initiative and says every American has a responsibility to help returning veterans and their families.
"These men and women are leaders,” said Biden. "They’ve been on the battlefield. They have true grit...If you want to get the job done, hire a veteran."
The responsibility extends to everyone, she said, from individuals to corporations. "Schools have a role to play, creating an awareness of military children in the classroom…Individuals have a role to play. Finding out who’s in your neighborhood, who can you lend a hand to? Who can you say, ‘Let me cut your lawn?'"
When Dr. Biden's son Beau was deployed to Iraq, a neighbor came over during a snowstorm and shoveled the driveway, walking away without a word. "The first lady and I are saying, commit to an act of kindness. Every American can do something."
The vice president's wife often mentions Beau, who served as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard. When his unit deployed, he left two young children behind. The experience gave Dr. Biden a first-hand look at the impact a deployed soldier has on the lives of family members. Beau served in Iraq for one year, and after completing his deployment returned home to work at the Delaware Department of Justice. He is now the state's Attorney General.
Biden's upcoming children's book, "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops" (Simon and Schuster, June 5), teaches kids who have parents in the military how to cope with deployments. She has said she will donate all net author proceeds to charities to support military families and children.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the Hiring Our Heroes initiative in March 2011 to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. Hiring Our Heroes hosted more than 120 hiring fairs in 24 states in its first year, and 2012 has seen an expansion, with hiring fairs in 400 communities across the country.
More from Hiring our Heroes:
Young veterans share their skills, dreams
Capital One, Comcast pledge to hire vets
Comcast and NBC Universal will hire 1,000 veterans
Hiring our Heroes 'unlocks the potential' of vets
Jill Biden: Veterans will 'get the job done'
Bloomberg: NYC is committed to hiring veterans
For more on Hiring our Heroes, an initiative from NBC News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that aims to get veterans back into the workforce, click here. Learn more about job fairs for veterans here.