It’s safe to say not many Americans get the opportunity to introduce President Obama and the First Lady at the White House.
But that’s exactly what David Padilla, who served two deployments in the Navy and studies at Mercy College, did during a Tuesday event focused on the country’s efforts to help military veterans find employment.
Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and service members in the East Room, Padilla calmly told reporters, and business leaders about his search for a job when he returned from overseas, and then introduced the First Couple. (Fast forward to 13:07 to see Padilla’s speech.)
“My time in the Navy taught me invaluable skills: How to manage a team, work with data, and operate high-tech equipment — not to mention all the discipline and hard work that comes with wearing that uniform,” said Padilla, who lives in the Bronx. “But when I came home and started my job search, it felt like companies didn’t see any of that in me.”
With help from the G.I. Bill, Padilla received his bachelor’s degree from Mercy, and is studying in the school’s MBA program. He had struggled to find a job for nearly three years, and eventually signed up for veterans’ workshops, which helped him land a position with UPS.
The Obama administration highlighted Padilla’s experiences as an example of a veteran who has benefited from private sector involvement and career counseling provided to members of the armed services.
“Our troops and our military families who serve right alongside them keep us strong, and they keep us safe,” Obama told the crowded room. “And as commander-in-chief, I’ve pledged that just as they’ve left their homes and families to take care of us, we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of them when they come home. That’s our sacred obligation.”
Photo: President Obama and David Padilla in the East Room of the White House.