Labor Department statistics show the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is at 8.9 percent, above the national rate of 8.3 percent. For veterans under 24, the unemployment rate was 19.9 percent in July.
Mrs. Obama also stopped in South Florida later Wednesday to encourage local volunteers to register just one more neighbor or friend to vote for Obama because those grass-roots efforts clinched the 2008 election, she said.
Obama thanked volunteers for giving their time, acknowledging their lives are busy, but reminding them that knocking on doors and answering phones could make the difference in a key battleground state.
"This election will be even closer than the last one. This election like so many others could come down to those last few thousand votes, especially in states like Florida," she told an exuberant crowd of about 2,500 packed into a hot Fort Lauderdale auditorium.
She told volunteers to remind undecided voters that her husband cut taxes for small businesses, closed the gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors known as "the doughnut hole." She said they should also remind voters that he ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Mrs. Obama aimed her appeal to middle-class supporters, recalling her father's job as a pump operator to remind them that she and the president understand the importance of rewarding hard work and giving everyone an equal opportunity.
"When it comes time to stand up for the middle class…who's going to have your back?" said Mrs. Obama. She spent nearly 20 minutes talking with volunteers in the crowd after her speech.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from South Florida and chair of the Democratic National Committee, also spoke at the event, warning seniors that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan's budget "would end Medicare as we know it."