By Russell Berman - 09/01/10 04:23 PM EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday trumpeted congressional efforts to boost the nation’s veterans and pledged ongoing support for American soldiers returning from war.
Pelosi delivered a 30-minute speech to the American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee, where she touted the passage of legislation to increase funding for veterans' healthcare and overhaul the GI Bill.
“Together we made more progress over the last four years for our veterans and their families than has been made since the passage of the GI Bill,” Pelosi said.
The Speaker praised President Obama’s Oval Office speech on Iraq but made only a glancing reference to her own fervent opposition to that war.
“When the troops come home now from Iraq, we will show them our thanks in the grandest possible way,” Pelosi said.
She said that regardless of one’s own position on the war, “we separate the war and the warrior, and we will welcome them home as the heroes that they are.”
Pelosi was given polite applause by an audience of Legionaires who heard from House GOP leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday.
She pledged that, just as a soldier would leave no man behind on the battlefield, “we say that we will leave no veteran behind when they come home.”
Pelosi said the government’s responsibility to veterans included fostering a strong enough economy to provide them jobs upon their return, as well as rebuilding America’s manufacturing base so that troops will have the equipment they need at war.
“Our work will not be complete until there is not one homeless veteran on any street in the land of the free and the home of the brave,” she said.
“And our work will not be complete until we ensure that no veteran in need of care is ever turned away from a VA medical facility, and no veteran is left to wade through mountains of bureaucratic red tape to settle their claims.”