On Veterans Day at Arlington Cemetery, President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier and gave passionate remarks urging Americans to do more than give thanks to our veterans. A 21 gun salute sounded to signaled Obama’s arrival on cemetery grounds and accompanied his departure.
The President said it’s right that we express our gratitude with parades and ceremonies, but our tributes ring hollow if they stop there. “Our tributes today will ring hollow if we do not ensure that our veterans receive the care that you have earned and that you deserve.”
Watch here (slide counter to 55 minutes to get to President Obama’s speech):
The President said we need to do more for our veterans than ceremonies and parades, “Today, in big cities and small towns across our country, there will be ceremonies around flagpoles and parades down Main Street to properly express our gratitude, to show our appreciation to men and women who served so that we might live free. It is right that we do so. But our tributes will ring hollow if we stop there.”
Obama said we have a wave of new veterans, “In recent years, more than a million of our men and women in uniform — many of them veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq — have completed their military service and returned to civilian life. Each year, at least another 200,000 do the same. Our 9/11 generation of veterans are joining the ranks of those who have come before, including many of you, our veterans of Korea and Vietnam. ”
“Our tributes today will ring hollow if we do not ensure that our veterans receive the care that you have earned and that you deserve,” President Obama said solemnly.
Obama said that we’ve made historic investments (many of these are things flag-waving Republicans are against) “to boost the VA budget, expand benefits, offer more mental health care and improve care for our wounded warriors — especially those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury” and “We’ve now slashed the disability claims backlog by nearly 90 percent. We’re reducing the outrage of veterans’ homelessness, and have helped tens of thousands of our veterans get off the streets.”
It’s good to have a president who addresses homeless veterans after years of war-mongering and flag-waving but veteran ignoring Bush. But Obama said we still have unacceptable problems, “like long wait times, and some veterans not getting the timely care that they need — is a challenge for all of us if we are to match our words with deeds.”
The President said he is not satisfied and will keep investing to make sure our veterans get what they need. “That is our obligation, and we are not going to let up.”
It’s also about jobs, the President said, urging Americans to hire a vet. “Our tributes today will also ring hollow if we don’t provide our veterans with the jobs and opportunities that you need when you come home.”
Just a few of the things Obama has fought for (and it would be remiss to ignore the First Lady and Second Lady’s huge contributions through Joining Forces): “That’s why we’ve helped more than 1.5 million veterans and their families pursue an education under the Post-9/11 GI bill. That’s why we worked to make sure that every state now provides veterans and their families with in-state tuition. It’s why we’re fighting to make it easier for our veterans to get the licenses and certifications to transition the outstanding skills they gained in the armed services to civilian jobs. It’s why we’re helping more veterans and military spouses find jobs. And today, the veterans’ unemployment rate is down to 3.9 percent — even lower than the national average. ”
“Our veterans are already making America great every single day. So my message today is simple: If you want to get the job done, hire a vet. .. they’ll make you proud.”
The President would not be partisan on Veterans Day, but the truth of the matter is Republicans do way too much flag waving for folks who refuse to support our veterans in the important ways when they get home. While things aren’t perfect, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have shown their commitment to our veterans over the years through deeds.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted a Veterans Day lunch for military connected women at the Vice President’s residence after the President’s remarks.
Image: Via the White House
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.