BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Harnessing the Strength of Veterans

Posted by egehl on September 27, 2010

I am jealous of anyone that got to attend the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting held last week.  It sounds like such a powerful event that brings together the world’s top leaders and thinkers to discuss our most pressing problems, and how to maximize human capital to solve them. 

At this year’s meeting President Clinton asked participants to address the challenge of harnessing the human potential, asking participants to consider, “What can we do to get more people involved in our common endeavors?” The meeting also looked at women’s empowerment.  

Members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made commitments valued at $57 billion, bringing hope and opportunity to more than 200 million people around the world.  This year, commitments were announced to support the long-term recovery of the Gulf Coast (which makes me happy!).

The annual meeting must be an amazingly informative, energizing and empowering event to witness firsthand.  In addition to the star studded line up of talented speakers, attendees had the privilege of hearing First Lady Michele Obama give the closing remarks.

She spoke about a topic near and dear to her heart which is how to address the many challenges veterans face as they transition to civilian life.  In particular, she’s interested in how to fully utilize the unique skills and talents of veterans so that they can be successful when they return home.

The First Lady called on business and non-profit leaders to harness the potential of veterans and military spouses.  She went on to talk about how military families often have trouble transitioning to civilian life.  Sixty-one percent of employers say they don’t understand the skills our veterans have to offer.  Therefore often veterans find themselves under-utilized or out of work for months on end.  

Mrs. Obama asked the audience to reach out and engage veterans and military spouses and to take advantage of their talent, dedication and experience.   She emphasized that hiring veteran’s and military spouses is good for an organization’s bottom line because of what they have to offer due to their unique background and experience.  They have highly valuable, transferable, and marketable skills that can benefit any business or field. 

It’s been wonderful for the First Lady to prioritize and be so vocal about this issue.  For years, the BPW Foundation has been talking about the importance of transitioning women veterans to civilian life through the ongoing work of “Women Joining Forces”, an initiative that provides programming and resources to veterans.  I applaud the First Lady for giving this issue such an important place in her platform, because the attention she’s giving it will bolster this important population.

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