Since she launched the Joining Forces initiative, first lady Michelle Obama has been one of the leading advocates for helping members of the military community find fulfilling employment opportunities. On Monday, she announced the creation of the IT Training and Certification Partnership – a push to help servicemembers earn certification for information technology (IT) jobs so they can land employment soon after separating from service. 

A year in the making
The new program, which is a public-private collaboration, comes after the Department of Defense (DOD) created the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force last year in an effort to identify where servicemembers transitioning to civilian life can find jobs. Not only that, but the task force was focused on making it easier for troops to gain access to licensing and credentialing programs. Officials hope that the partnership will provide job opportunities to around 161,000 servicemembers.

Big names contributing 
The partnership includes some of the biggest names in the IT world. Microsoft has said that it will not only provide 500 exam vouchers to help servicemembers earn certifications, but it will also partially underwrite the expenses associated with its training programs Hewlett-Packard has also thrown its hat in the ring with the HP ExpertOne program. This initiative is meant to provide servicemember s with hands-on experiences that will help them find jobs once they leave the Armed Forces. Other well-known companies playing a role include Oracle, Cisco Systems and NetApp.

Efforts made on a smaller level
While the most recent partnership is on a large scale, states are making efforts on their own to help lower the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans. For instance, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 into law earlier this month, and Obama was by his side for the ceremony. Much like the IT Training and Certification Partnership, the bill was designed to make the certification process easier and less complicated. 

"This is about improving the financial security for thousands of military families," Obama said during the bill signing. "It's about giving veterans and their spouses an opportunity to build their careers and create a better future for their children."

For troops that already have certification, part of the challenge is finding employers in need of new workers. AFBA's Career Center makes that easier by connection troops with companies that are actively hiring.