Obama Urges Nation to Serve Veterans Who Served
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2011 – President Barack Obama taped his weekly radio address, released today, from the bridge of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, praising the men and women and uniform and underscoring the nation's commitment to them and all veterans.
The president, who traveled to the ship yesterday to meet with the crew and enjoy "one of the most unique college basketball games I've ever seen" with them, said Veterans Day isn't just about thanking veterans.
"It's about rededicating ourselves to serving our veterans as well as they've served us," he said. "And right now, that's more important than ever."
Obama noted his announcement last month to end the war in Iraq by the year's end, just in time for military families to welcome home their loved ones for the holidays.
In the meantime, the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is beginning to wind down.
That means that within the next five years, more than 1 million service members will transition back into civilian life, he said, joining the 3 million who already have done so over the last decade.
Although many have served with distinction in some of the most dangerous places on the planet, he said many face new challenges when they leave the military.
"Today, more than 850,000 veterans remain unemployed. And too many are struggling to find a job worthy of their talents and experience," he said.
"That's not right," the president continued. "We ask these men and women to leave their families and their jobs and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home."
To give our veterans the opportunities they've earned, the president said he's directed the federal government to lead by example. Noting that it has hired 120,000 additional veterans, Obama said he has challenged private companies to follow that lead by hiring or training 100,000 post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.
While noting hirings already made and new pledges made, "we need to do more," the president said. That, he said, includes passage of legislation to provide tax credits for employers who hire unemployed veterans or wounded warriors.
"As commander-in-chief, I want every veteran to know that America will always honor your service and your sacrifice not just today, but every day," the president concluded.
"And just as you fought for us, we're going to keep fighting for you for more jobs, for more security, for the opportunity to keep your families strong and America competitive in the 21st century."