"But we have reason for optimism, because the unemployment rate of post 9/11 veterans has been trending downward for the past 27 months," First Lady, Michelle Obama told a crowd of about 400 people gathered at the KCS Railway Company in Shreveport.
With a KCS train and railroad as her backdrop, the first lady touted the success of a program called Joining Forces - one of it's objectives: to get veterans hired.
"You know the bottom line is trying to get everybody to work. This is great this is where the rubber meets the road," said Shreveport City Council Member, Joe Shyne after hearing the First Lady speak.
Today's announcement was supposed to celebrate 50,000 veterans hired, but the rate of hires nationally outpaced the scheduled announcement here in Shreveport. So it was actually a higher number.
"But by the end of the month we had already hit 50,000," Michelle Obama said to the crowd. And while she arrived in Shreveport to highlight the 50,000th hire in the Joining Forces effort, it turned out to be the 60,000th hire. Michael Abitago, who served two tours in Iraq will start his first day at KCS on Monday. And while sharing the stage with her he thanked the first lady for his job.
"She has a plan and she has a great plan, and helping military veterans is a good thing," said Abitago.
And that good thing is something Shreveport city leaders would like to see expand.
"We just have to get some people on board that will look at veterans and the unique skills they have and bring them on board," said Michael Corbin.
And many feel the First Lady's visit promises enough exposure to get the program even more hires.
Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden initiated the Joining Forces project a year ago hoping to encourage employers to hire 100,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013.