WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama announced Tuesday that companies participating in a program to help veterans find work have hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses since August 2011, nearly tripling the original goal of the program with about eight months to spare.
The numbers are based on totals provided by companies participating in the program. Relevant information from each company is collected on either a monthly or quarterly basis.
Obama said Tuesday that the program called Joining Forces has also generated pledges from businesses to hire or train another 435,000 in the next five years.
The new hiring projections came at a White House event with veterans and company executives that also featured President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Jill Biden.
"Too often, just when these men and women are looking forward to the next chapter of their lives, they are stuck in neutral," the president said.
Nearly one out of five U.S. veterans under the age of 25 is looking for a job. The unemployment rate last year was also in double-digits for those 25-34. Overall, the unemployment rate for those veterans serving since the Sept. 11 attacks stood at 9.9 percent last year, a significant improvement from the previous year.
The first lady stressed that more help is needed. She called on private companies to step up hiring to keep up with the demand that will occur as nearly 1 million members of the military become civilians in the next few years.
"These efforts are about so much more than a paycheck. This is about giving these men and women a source of identify and purpose," she said. "This is about providing thousands of families with financial security and giving our veterans and military spouses the confidence that they can provide a better future for their children."
The president noted that he has proposed a permanent extension of a tax break that Congress approved in late 2011. Employers get up to a $5,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran out of work for more than six months, or up to $9,600 for hiring a disabled veteran out of work for the same amount of time.
The White House has also been encouraging governors and state legislators to make it easier for veterans to apply their military experience when trying to get a professional license or credential at home.
But, in the end, it's up to private companies to do the hiring, the first lady said.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Featured image AP photos.