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From those shots fired at Lexington and Concord more than two centuries ago to our newest generation of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our history shines with patriots who answered the call to serve. They put their lives on the line to defend the country they loved. And in the end, many gave that “last full measure of devotion” so that our nation would endure.
President Obama in this morning's weekly address saluted fallen heroes from the past, exhorted Americans to remember those who've died in military service to the country, and urged listeners to keep in mind veterans, active service members and their families on this holiday weekend.

He discussed what the fallen fought and died for:

Every single one of us owes our fallen heroes a profound debt of gratitude. Because every time we cast our votes or speak our minds without fear, it’s because they fought for our right to do that. Every chance we get to make a better life for ourselves and our families is possible because generations of patriots fought to keep America a land of opportunity, where anyone – of any race, any religion, from any background – can make it if they try. Our country was born out of a desire to be free, and every day since, it’s been protected by our men and women in uniform – people who believed so deeply in America, they were willing to give their lives for it.
And he made an indirect reference to the problems his administration faces over the recent VA issues that have made news in the past few weeks:
In recent weeks, we’ve seen again how much more our nation has to do to make sure all our veterans get the care they deserve. As Commander in Chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a sacred obligation. It’s been one of the causes of my presidency. And now that we’ve ended the war in Iraq, and as our war in Afghanistan ends as well, we have to work even harder as a nation to make sure all our veterans get the benefits and opportunities they’ve earned. They’ve done their duty, and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours – now and for decades to come.
To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
May 24, 2014

Hi, everybody. It’s Memorial Day weekend – a chance for Americans to get together with family and friends, break out the grill, and kick off the unofficial start of summer. More importantly, it’s a time to remember the heroes whose sacrifices made these moments possible – our men and women in uniform who gave their lives to keep our nation safe and free.  

From those shots fired at Lexington and Concord more than two centuries ago to our newest generation of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our history shines with patriots who answered the call to serve. They put their lives on the line to defend the country they loved. And in the end, many gave that “last full measure of devotion” so that our nation would endure.

Every single one of us owes our fallen heroes a profound debt of gratitude. Because every time we cast our votes or speak our minds without fear, it’s because they fought for our right to do that. Every chance we get to make a better life for ourselves and our families is possible because generations of patriots fought to keep America a land of opportunity, where anyone – of any race, any religion, from any background – can make it if they try. Our country was born out of a desire to be free, and every day since, it’s been protected by our men and women in uniform – people who believed so deeply in America, they were willing to give their lives for it.

We owe them so much. So this Memorial Day, we’ll gather together, as Americans, to honor the fallen, with both public ceremonies and private remembrances. And I hope all Americans will take a moment this weekend to think of those who have died in service to our nation. Say a prayer in their memories and for their families. Lay a flower where they’ve come to rest. Reach out to service members, military families or veterans in your community, or families who have lost loved ones, and let them know that their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Most of all, let’s keep working to make sure that our country upholds our sacred trust to all who’ve served. In recent weeks, we’ve seen again how much more our nation has to do to make sure all our veterans get the care they deserve. As Commander in Chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a sacred obligation. It’s been one of the causes of my presidency. And now that we’ve ended the war in Iraq, and as our war in Afghanistan ends as well, we have to work even harder as a nation to make sure all our veterans get the benefits and opportunities they’ve earned. They’ve done their duty, and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours – now and for decades to come.

Happy Memorial Day, everybody.  May God watch over our fallen heroes.  And may He continue to bless the United States of America.

###
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Comment Preferences

  •  Chicken shit speech. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Burned, snoopydawg

    I'm sorry Mr President but this speech should have gone something like this:

    In the past few weeks this nation has once again been reminded that, contrary of all of our protestations that "we support the troops", we don't.

    We take young men and women, primarily from disadvantaged communities and send them off to sacrifice their lives, their health, and their future so the rest of us can sleep easily and prosperously. When they come home, we ignore and neglect them. We have done this since the Revolutionary war, and we are still doing it.

    I promise that those responsible for making veterans wait for treatment at VA hospitals will be disciplined so that a clear message is sent that this will never happen again on my watch.

    I will put forward a bill to fully fund physical and mental health programs for all veterans and will personally call out each and every member of Congress who tries to block it or impede it with irrelevant amendments.

    I guarantee that no American veteran will sleep on the street or go without life's necessities for want of resources.

    If these United States cannot afford to care for our returning warriors, we cannot afford to send them to war.

    On this Memorial Day, let us not only remember their sacrifice in the theater of war. Let us remember that those sacrifices stay with them when they return, and let every American promise them, that we will not forget their sacrifice as long as they live.

    •  You mean like this Executive Order to Improve (10+ / 0-)

      Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families?

      WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order directing key federal departments to expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.  

      Ensuring that all veterans, Active, Guard, and Reserve service members and their families receive the support they deserve is a top priority for the Obama Administration. Since September 11, 2001, more than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan with unprecedented duration and frequency.

      Long deployments and intense combat conditions require optimal support for the emotional and mental health needs of our service members and their families. The Obama Administration has consistently expanded efforts to ensure our troops, veterans and their families receive the benefits they have earned and deserve, including providing timely mental health service. The Executive Order signed today builds on these efforts.  

      President Obama’s Executive Order

      The Executive Order signed by President Obama:

      Strengthens suicide prevention efforts across the Force and in the veteran community:
      The Executive Order directs the VA to increase the VA veteran crisis line capacity by 50% by the end of the year.  
      Under the Executive Order, VA will ensure that any veteran identifying him or herself as being in crisis connects with a mental health professional or trained mental health worker within 24 hours or less.

      VA will work with the Department of Defense to develop and implement a national 12 month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services.  
      Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between VA and community providers:
      In service areas where VA has faced challenges in hiring and placing mental health service providers and continues to have unfilled vacancies or long wait times, the Executive Order Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish at least 15 pilot sites.  In pilot sites, VA will contract with community health centers, community mental health clinics, community substance abuse treatment facilities and other HHS grantees and community resources to help reduce VA mental health waiting lists.  

      Under the Executive Order, HHS and VA will develop a plan for a rural mental health recruitment initiative to promote opportunities for VA and rural communities to share mental health providers when demand is insufficient for either to support a full-time provider.  

      Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving our veterans:
      Under the Executive Order, VA will hire 800 peer-to-peer support counselors to empower veterans to support other veterans and help ensure that their mental health care and overall service needs are met.

      VA has launched an effort to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals to serve veterans. The Executive Order directs VA to use its pay-setting authorities, loan repayment and scholarships, partnerships with health care workforce training programs, and collaborative arrangements with community-based providers to recruit, hire, and place 1,600 mental health professionals by June, 2013. Since, 2009, the VA has expanded its mental health programs, hiring more than 3,500 mental health professionals since 2009.

      Promotes mental health research and development of more effective treatment methodologies:
      The Executive Order directs the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education to develop a National Research Action Plan that will include strategies to improve early diagnosis and treatment effectiveness for TBI and PTSD.

      The Executive Order further directs the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive mental health study with an emphasis on PTSD, TBI, and related injuries to develop better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.  

      Launch a government-wide collaborative effort to address these issues through a Military and Veterans Mental Health Interagency Task Force:
      The Executive Order establishes an Interagency Task Force, including the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, the Domestic Policy Council, National Security Staff, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which will make recommendations to the President on additional strategies to improve mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.

      Supporting our Military, Veterans, and their Families
      The President has taken key steps to protect and strengthen the health of our military, veterans and their families here at home. Many of these initiatives are supported by agencies across the federal government and collaborative partnerships with states and communities.

      Health Care
      For the first time ever, 135 medical schools have committed to exchanging leading research on PTSD and TBI and will also train future physicians to better understand veteran health needs.  More than 150 state and national nursing organizations and over 650 nursing schools have committed to ensure our nation’s 3 million nurses are prepared to meet the unique health needs of veterans and their families by educating the current and future nurses of America to have a better understanding of PTSD and TBI.

      President Obama signed the “caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010”, into law which helps our most seriously injured post-9/11 veterans and their family caregivers with a monthly stipend; access to health insurance; mental health services and counseling; and comprehensive VA caregiver training and respite care.
      The Department of Labor has proposed new regulations for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to support military families and caregivers. This rule would implement statutory changes to the FMLA, expanding leave to family members caring for veterans who have suffered a serious injury or illness.

      In July 2010, the VA published a historic change to its rules, streamlining the process and paperwork needed by combat veterans to pursue a claim for disability pay for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

      The VA expanded its workforce by over 2,600 people to handle applications for disability pay. The VA is also using technology and new approaches to help veterans get their benefits by accepting online applications for initial disability benefits, initiating an innovation competition, launching pilot initiatives, and investing over $128 million in a paperless Veterans Benefits Management System.

      The administration is utilizing partnerships to reduce the stigma associated with seeking treatment for behavioral health issues. Make the Connection, a campaign launched by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is creating ways for veterans and their family members to connect with the experiences of other veterans and access the information and resources to help these families confront the challenges of transitioning from service to daily civilian life.

      Licensing and Credentials
      Nearly 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force require licenses or certification for their profession. Many military spouses hold occupational licenses and routinely move across state lines, causing licensing requirements to disproportionately affect the military spouse population.

      The First Lady and Dr. Biden encouraged all 50 governors to pass legislation by 2014 to reduce the financial and administrative strains that 100,000 military spouses incur from trying to get their state licenses or certification credentials to transfer from state to state as they move. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden encouraged governors to take Action in February 2012 when only 11 states had legislation on the books. 26 states now have measures in place to support military spouses and the initiative is on-track to meet the 2014 goal.

      Education
      The Department of Defense has awarded $180 million in grants to support military-connected public school districts.  These grants support improved academic programs for military children.  More than 400,000 students from military families across all grade levels are impacted by these grant projects.

      The Department of Defense has awarded approximately $25 million to military-connected Local Education Agencies (LEAs) this summer to focus on increasing student achievement and easing transitions through research-based academic and support programs.  

      The Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Council of State Governments' (CSG) National Center for Interstate Compacts developed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (the Compact) to address the educational transition issues of children of military families.  

      The Compact covers transition issues including class placement, records transfer, immunization requirements, course placement, graduation requirements, exit testing, and extra-curricular opportunities.  States adopt the Compact through legislation, and as a result, join the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3).  

      To date, 39 states have approved the Compact and these states are home to 89 percent of school age children whose active duty parents are assigned to military installations in the United States.  We will continue to work with leaders to encourage the 11 remaining states approve the Compact and become members of MIC3.

      VA eased the Post-9/11 GI Bill application process within the eBenefits portal, including transferability to spouses or children for service members with over six years of service. Servicemembers can now apply on-line to transfer the benefits of their Post-9/11 GI Bill to eligible beneficiaries.

      Housing
      On top of the historic settlements completed by the Federal government and 49 state Attorneys General, major mortgage servicers will be providing relief to thousands of service member and veteran households.

      A review will be conducted of every service member household foreclosed upon since 2006. Those wrongly foreclosed upon will be compensated equal to a minimum of lost equity, plus interest and a refund for money lost because they were wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments. Additionally, these organizations will pay $10 million into a VA fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms for veterans.

      The Administration is working to end veteran homelessness through leveraging broad support at Federal, State, and local levels in both the public and private sectors.

      Working with over 4,000 community agencies, the VA and HUD have successfully placed more than 37,000 veterans in permanent housing with dedicated case managers and access to high-quality VA health care since 2009. To ensure we reach out to our homeless veterans, the VA created a National Registry for Homeless Veterans and established a National Homeless Hotline. Veteran homelessness was reduced by nearly 12 percent between January 2010 and January 2011.

      In 2011, VA helped save 72,391 Veteran and military borrowers with VA-guaranteed loans from foreclosure, a 10% increase from the prior year.   VA has helped nearly 59,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure so far in 2012.  The home loan guaranty program helps Veterans and their families purchase homes, often with no down payment required.  The program expects to guaranty the 20 millionth loan in early November 2012.

      Using their Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan, also known as the Streamline Refinance, VA refinances existing VA loans into new loans with lower interest rates, or adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) into fixed rate mortgages.  In 2011, this program saved an average of $202 per month in individual payment reductions and 1.42% in interest rates.  This equates to saving military and veterans $24 million a month and $293 million per year.

      Financial Readiness
      The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Education and Financial Access has helped military families identify predatory lending practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established an office of service member affairs to ensure that the CFPB addresses the financial challenges that confront military families and strengthens protections against abusive financial practices.

      So...even when the President is being blocked by Republicans he is still working to assist veterans.... This is just one of many initiatives that the President has created for veterans.

      He and his administration has actually focused on veterans issues more than any other President in recent history....

      •  Thanks, Ned; President Obama's tireless (6+ / 0-)

        work for the American people often is overlooked.  Perhaps, it is because this president does not "blow his own horn," it is not in his character.  He is a rare politician who seems to believe that his actions speak for him.  However, in this climate of such extreme hatred for this man, as a supporter, I wish he would specify the irrefutable achievements he has made.

        As another example of your superb post, just recently, in September of 2012, Senate Rrepublicans voted down a jobs bill for our vets.  In February of 2014, this year, Repubs voted down a funding bill which would have brought significant changes in decades for U.S. Vets building 27 new medical facilities for this system that is so strained from returning vets from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the aging vets from the Korean war and Vietnam.  

        It doesn't take a genius to understand the millions of files that need attention.  When funding of office personnel is inadequate not just in 2014, but has been for the last 50 years, the only way to get improvement is to hire more federal employees to get the task done. The VA medical care once in the system is good, (I know from personal experience), it must be revamped by serious work on the part of Congress, a bipartisan effort; they hold the funds and it is Congress who is responsible.
        Again, Thank you.

        •  Excuses (0+ / 0-)

          He's got 2 years left in his term.

          He doesn't need to worry about re-election.

          His actions do not speak for him because no one will every hear about them.

          The days of "walking softly" are past him. Time to get out the big stick.

          This was an opportunity to put the American public on notice that they are failing veterans while pinning on their yellow ribbons and patting themselves on the back for "supporting the troops". Obstructionism by Republicans in Congress is not going to stop until they're afraid of losing their jobs over it. the President needs to make sure that they are in danger of losing their jobs over blocking his efforts. He's got the bully pulpit. Time to start using it.

          •  I agree with you 100%! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NedSparks

            My admiration for President Obama has never faltered.  However, some of the lies and half-truths would be lessened if he would only set the record straight.  You are so right, "his actions do not speak for him because no one will ever hear about them."  The so-called main-stream media is a joke when it comes giving this president his due.

            His record is irrefutable.  It is fact.  Let the Repugs try to misinform, minimize, and/or lie about what actually is.  The danger of being the "angry black man," is over.  Tell it like it is, Mr. President.

      •  It is really hard to credit Obama (0+ / 0-)

        Because the results are all that matters. And the results are bad. Hence the headlines about Shinseki and the VA...

        (Your link sez 404 Not Found, and was signed by Obama in 2012, NOT 2009...so...)

        Obama makes too many speeches that do not result in actions made. It may be our POV rather than fact, I will grudgingly admit, but there is a reason his approval ratings are so low. He has not DELIVERED on these promises, in the aggregate. I see the glass as 20% full--not enough to say I approve of the job he's doing, whether it's for veterans, climate change, ending the wars, boosting the economy, even thwarting the GOP who do everything they can to ruin the first black President's terms.

        They are succeeding.

        Whose 'fault' is that other than Obama's? Should I be glad that he's failing? Should I be glad that he rolls over and gives them their way as much as he does? Should I be glad that he's more interested in 'bi-partisanship' than in solutions that will deliver?

        Nobody wanted Obama to succeed more than his liberal and left critics. I appreciate your defense of him, but it still doesn't change the facts on the ground: This country is barely better off than it was 5 years ago, and most people agree. The buck stops THERE.

        "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

        by DaddyO on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:17:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How many fell in Afghanistan... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, snoopydawg

    ...that you surged into there? For...

    ...what? What did they die for? Your re-election? To keep us safe, you say?

    As God is my witness, I do the best I can to see your Presidency in the most positive light possible, but sometimes it's very difficult. Very.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:57:42 AM PDT

    •  That was my first thought. (0+ / 0-)

      That fucking surge was unforgivable, and now we have to hear about how Obama really really cares about our veterans, including the ones who were killed and maimed in a stupid war that he massively escalated for no good reason.  People are still dying over there.   We should have been completely out of there years ago.

      •   (0+ / 0-)

        If you go back and remember that the military, (Petraeus and McChrystal) were gung-ho for 40,000 to 60,000 more troops on the ground.  The President went into the presidency saying he would bring the troops home.  There was much debate in the Cabinet, back and forth, and the outcome resulted in a troop surge of 30,000.

        This president has brought the troops home from Iraq.  Afghanistan withdrawal is scheduled for the end of 2014; however, it depends upon Karzai and whether or not he will sign a long-delayed bilateral security agreement, “which would provide [Defense] personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014.”  If he does not sign it, all troops will come home.

        The Republicans and some of the military want to stay, fight, keep fighting, destroying any semblance of what this country was before the invasion in October of 2001.The U.S. presence has not and will not solve this country's problems.  Our influence and watchful involvement is very necessary, of course, with a neighbor such as Pakistan.  

        However, a huge choice between the political parties of the U.S. is the Repugs will go to war at the drop of a hat.  The intelligent, thoughtful, cerebral approach irritates many about this president, but it is this quality that will keep the world sane.

        The extrication from the Bush mess in Afghanistan and Iraq takes Congress and the military and the President to work together.  I think you might agree it has been rather a lopsided affair.

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