By Tim Devaney - 02/10/14 01:54 PM EST
First lady Michelle Obama on Monday announced a new commitment from the private sector to hire more than 100,000 veterans in construction jobs.
Speaking at the Labor Department, the first lady hailed the companies for taking part in the administration's push to ensure that veterans can find employment when they return from the battlefield. She said more than 100 companies will voluntarily take part in the hiring push over the next five years.
"I know that you all have made this commitment not just because it's the patriotic thing to do, which it is," the first lady said. "You've done this because you know it's the smart thing to do for your businesses.
"The military turns out some of the hardest working employees this country has ever seen," she said.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the government is "returning the favor" to the men and women who risk their lives in military service.
"These are good jobs," Perez said. "Jobs with good wages, jobs that provide economic security, jobs that can't be outsourced or sent overseas, jobs that strengthen ladders of opportunities in particular for our veterans."
The Obama administration has pushed companies to hire veterans, who often times have a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after the military.
Last August, the Labor Department announced it was setting new benchmarks for federal contractors to hire veterans. The rule, which goes into effect in March, encourages companies to make sure veterans account for at least 8 percent of their workforce.
The Labor Department said more than 170,000 federal contractors would be affected by the rule.