Obama: US must back veterans

President Obama took a break from politics in his weekly address to laud the efforts of U.S. veterans from the “greatest generation” of World War II to those who fought in Iraq in Afghanistan after 9/11.

“Thank you to that greatest generation who fought island by island across the Pacific, and freed millions from fascism in Europe,” he said. “Thank you to the heroes who risked everything through the bitter cold of Korea and the stifling heat of Vietnam.  And thank you to all the heroes who have served since, most recently our 9/11 generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11, and the president said it was the role of elected officials to recognize those who have sacrificed for the country. Veterans issues have been in the spotlight as many of those returning from conflict in the Middle East have struggled with unemployment, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and an epidemic of suicides.

“I’ve often said that my top priority is growing the economy, creating new jobs, and restoring middle-class security,” Obama said. “And a very important part of that is making sure that every veteran has every chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped defend. In addition to the care and benefits they’ve earned – including good mental health care to stay strong – that means a good job, a good education, and a home to call their own.”

The president highlighted the administration’s transition assistance programs, tax credits for companies that hire veterans, the post-9/11 GI bill for higher education, and initiatives aimed at hiring those returning from war.

“Thanks to these efforts, and the efforts of the private sector, we’ve made progress getting our vets back to work,” Obama said. “But we’ve got a lot more to do.  And as more than a million of our troops return to civilian life, we’re going to have to work even harder. Because the skill, dedication, and courage of our troops is unmatched – and when they come home, we all benefit from their efforts to build a stronger America and a brighter future for our kids.”

Obama also urged Congress to pass the Veterans Jobs Corps Act, which was blocked last year by Republicans in the Senate who said it violated the Budget Control Act.

“So to all our veterans, on behalf our entire nation, thank you for everything you’ve done and will continue to do for our country,” Obama concluded. “As your Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud of your service, and grateful for your sacrifice. And as long as I'm your President, I will make it my mission to make sure that America has your back, not just on one day or one weekend, but 365 days a year.”