On a day when the nation's unemployment rate increased—and stocks plummeted—President Barack Obama said he wants more job opportunities for veterans.
He spoke to Friday on the factory floor of in Golden Valley.
Obama urged Congress to pass legislation that would create a Veterans Job Corps, which would help veterans find jobs as police officers, firefighters and in other service industries.
“I believe that no one that fights for this country should have to fight for a job when they return home,” Obama told the crowd. “Men and women that have served in the military have incredible skills that any company could benefit from.”
According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 is about 12 percent, compared to the national unemployment rate.
Earlier in the day, the Labor Department announced that the U.S. unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in May, up from 8.1 percent in April. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 275 points by close Friday.
Obama's speech at Honeywell focused on the struggles veterans have finding work.
“If we are going to serve our veterans as they have served us, we must get to work on this,” Obama said. “We must deliver for our veterans.”
He applauded the efforts of Honeywell, a company that set out to hire 500 veterans last year.
“Last year when the White House launched the Joining Forces initiative to encourage companies to hire veterans, we decided to step up to the challenge,” Honeywell Spokesperson Bruce Anderson said. The company exceeded its goal; Honeywell now employees 600 veterans, 65 of which work at the campus in Golden Valley.
“We know that members of the military have transferable skills and we have seen that first hand at Honeywell,” Anderson said. “Our veterans have tremendous work ethic, leadership skills, an understanding of business efficiency and many of them have specialized skills that we put to good use here.”
A crowd of veterans from Honeywell sat behind the president as he spoke. American Legion Department Commander Curt Kruger said he was thrilled to see attention brought to such an important issue.
“Having a job is part of reintegrating back into normal life,” Kruger said. “This has been a problem for some time and I think any effort that helps veterans find work is a good one.”
Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris hopes other companies will follow the example set by Honeywell.
"As more U.S. soldiers return home from overseas action, our national commitment to providing economic stability for our veterans and their families must remain strong," Harris said. "I applaud Honeywell for its pledge to honor our troops through job skills training and employment, and I encourage other corporations to do the same."
In his 30-minute speech Obama urged Congress to work together on this initiative, and not make it a political game.
After Obama’s stop in Golden Valley, he was off to a fundraiser at The Bachelor Farmer, a Minneapolis restaurant owned by Gov. Mark Dayton’s sons.