Jill Biden: 'If you want to get the job done, hire a veteran'

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.


Discuss this post


This is such a wonderful effort to help our nation's vets. I would love to know if there's a way I can work with vets to help them translate their skills into business vocabulary to help them craft their resumes and prep for interviews.

As an MBA graduate who works as a product developer and as a writer, I'd love to put those skills to work to help vets.

    Reply#1 - Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:21 PM EDT

    Christa--just contact your local college or university. Specifically, contact the person who works with veterans. The title is often just "Veteran Student Services." You can also contact your local VA.

    In my experience, one of the chief impediments to veterans getting jobs--well, the male veterans--is that they tend to be wildly misogynistic. They are "polite" to their female professors when speaking to them, but the "ma'am" just drips with disdain. They frequently go over the head of any female faculty or staff to talk to the first male whom they can identify as that person's "superior."

    The military culture tends to still use nasty terms for women--R. Lee Ermey is known for using the term "ladies" in a disdainful way, and this is on television shows one would presume would not allow him to be quite so nasty. Male veterans tend (not always--it's just a tendency) to be quite chauvinistic.

    While it is possible to be nastily chauvinistic in military culture--as long as one is mindful of being publicly polite to any female superior officers--this is not really possible in most other businesses. I remember interviewing with a former military man who had a chip on his shoulder about women (he would not even sit within three feet of the two women who were his supervisors) and openly belittled and heckled me during the interview. He had been hired mainly because it was a state government job, and he had precedence because of his service. In a "real world" job, he'd have been toast in about two seconds.

    Military men probably want to stick to government jobs--as they will get precedence there--state government also works. But, if they aren't getting job offers in the "real world"--they might want to check their attitude towards women. From what I've seen, this is one key thing that keeps them from getting work. If I owned a business, frankly, I would be terribly skeptical about hiring a non-female veteran, as there is a strong tendency for them to be more trouble (for female business owners and supervisors) than they are worth.

      #1.1 - Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:28 PM EDT

      Good job, Mrs. Biden!

        Reply#2 - Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:27 PM EDT

        I have a hero that deserves recognition, too. George F. McGrath deserves an
        honorary college degree. A WWII Veteran, who served aboard the USS Texas during
        the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and is a retired NYFD chief, never
        completed his degree. At 96, there is not much time left. PLEASE HELP! I
        completed a massive letter-writing campaign to many colleges, politicians and
        TV media - no response. Someone out there should be able to help him.

          Reply#3 - Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:29 PM EDT
          Hi, we are looking for participants for our study on spouses of Army Guard & Reserve Soldiers. We need your help! If your husband returned from OEF/OIF, please fill out our survey at surveymonkey.com/s/ARNG_and_USAR_Spouse_Survey. The survey is anonymous and it takes @ 20 minutes. Questions ask about your well-being, marital relationship, support received & you can tell your own story. The information from this survey will be used to educate our communities about the challenges faced by spouses of Guard & Reserve soldiers during the post-deployment period. Additionally, this information may be able to help improve services for Army Guard & Reserve families. For more info go to armyspousestudy . com Thank you!
            Reply#5 - Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:59 PM EDT

            The initiative hire vets still continues to be a great one in getting the economy and American workers back to a state of normalcy. The question is still if we are putting veterans above other people who are unemployed as well, then aren’t we taking a bigger risk? There are many positions that we’re holding for vets which could be filled by people who already have the skills necessary to work the jobs (). Wouldn’t It be better to fill those positions with those qualified first and then hire on veterans to be trained by those same former unemployed? The reason I ask this is that those who are also unemployed for the same reasons run an even greater risk of not being hired specifically because the discrimination they have faced because of the length of time they’ve been out of work. While the intention im sure is good we need to stratigize a better way to put everyone back to work not just one group.

              Reply#6 - Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:42 PM EDT
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