On Monday, July 23, President Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention with a powerful speech. The President discussed promises made, and promises kept; accomplishments made, and work to be done; goals reached, and plans for the future. The speech demonstrated President Obama’s enduring commitment to veterans and military families and made it clear that he will do any and everything he can to support them.
The President opened his speech on a highly emotional note, recognizing the servicemen and women lost in the tragic Aurora, Colorado, movie theater massacre and promising their families support. “These young patriots were willing to serve in faraway lands, yet they were taken from us here at home. And yesterday I conveyed to their families a message on behalf of all Americans: We honor your loved ones. We salute their service. And as you summon the strength to carry on and keep bright their legacy, we stand with you as one united American family,” he said. The President then asked all Vietnam veterans present at the convention to stand, and welcomed them home, saying they didn’t always receive the thanks they deserved.
President Obama went on to describe the promises he made to veterans all over the country as he stood before the Veterans of Foreign Wars four years ago: veteran homelessness, mental health problems, unemployment, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These were issues that, to many people, seemed insurmountable and impossible to combat, but the President has kept every promise he made that day.
- President Obama ended the war in Iraq, bringing home safely 150,000 troops.
- Under the President’s leadership, Osama bin Laden was brought to justice. As he said in his speech, bin Laden will “never threaten America again.”
- The President has made plans to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014, bringing home the troops to their families in a responsible way.
- Under the Obama administration, the VA’s budget has been significantly boosted, with the largest percentage increase in thirty years, allowing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide veterans and military families with the care and benefits they deserve.
- To fight the unacceptable level of unemployment among veterans, the President has signed into law a number of initiatives, including the Veterans Jobs Corps, the We Can’t Wait Initiative, and the Veterans Jobs and Skills Act. These measures do everything from allowing veterans and their spouses to quickly and easily procure occupational licenses, to creating jobs for veterans, to providing training and counseling. On top of this, the President has cut taxes twice for businesses that hire veterans.
- The Obama administration has killed or captured more Al Qaeda leaders than in any other period since 9/11, pushing Al Qaeda back significantly, and sending them on the road to defeat.
- Under President Obama’s leadership, the world’s view of the United States of America has improved significantly, and our relationships with our allies have been strengthened.
- Through the work of the Obama administration, tens of thousands of homeless veterans have been taken off of the streets and put into permanent housing.
- The President repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing gay men and women in the military to wear their uniforms with pride in the country they serve.
- Mental health services for veterans have been dramatically expanded under President Obama. Thousands more counselors and clinicians have been hired to fight the epidemic of PTSD among America’s veterans.
- President Obama has cracked down on for-profit colleges that have tried to take advantage of veterans’ GI Bill benefits, ensuring that the benefits are put to good use.
- It may no longer be a crime to make false claims about receiving our military’s highest honors, but as President Obama said, it will always be “reprehensible.” That’s why he’s started a website that lists all of the recipients of the Medal of Honor, so no one can steal a veteran’s valor.
- President Obama expanded the GI Bill dramatically. Since he has been in office, more than 800,000 veterans and their family members have used their benefits to pursue an education.
- With President Obama as commander in chief, America is leading the fight against nuclear weapons—imposing strict sanctions on Iran and North Korea. We’re also fighting for freedom around the world, standing with people in the Middle East, North Africa, and Libya who are demanding their rights.
These accomplishments are outstanding steps forward for America’s veterans, servicemen and women, and military families. As he has with the entire nation, President Obama is moving the U.S. military forward. However, the President is not stopping there. During his speech he announced a total overhaul of the military’s transition assistance program (TAP). The new program will resemble a “reverse boot camp.” It will provide more personalized assistance for veterans as they plan their post-military careers. As the President described it, “We’ll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education, or start that business. And just as they’ve maintained their military readiness, we’ll have new standards of ‘career readiness.’”
President Obama’s record as President speaks for itself. There is no question that he supports America’s veterans and military families, and that as their commander in chief, he has worked tirelessly to do right by them. His opponent, Mitt Romney, has no clear plan to fight the tough issues that America has seen President Obama tackled head-on. For veterans, for servicemen and women, for military families, and for the rest of America the choice for this November is clear. As President Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he’s got our backs.