Obama: Veterans Day about more than thanks

Nov. 12, 2011 at 6:00 AM
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SAN DIEGO, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday urged the House of Representatives to pass a bill giving military veterans "the opportunities they've earned."

In his weekly radio and Internet address, recorded Friday aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, the president said Veterans Day is about more than thanking the troops.

"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 that, with the end of U.S. military operations in Iraq in December, and with the war in Afghanistan winding down, "over a million service members will transition back into civilian life" during the next five years, "joining the 3 million who have already done so over the last decade."

"These are men and women who have served with distinction in some of the most dangerous places on the planet," he said. "But for many of them, the challenges don't end when they take off the uniform."

The president said more than 850,000 veterans are unemployed and "too many are struggling to find a job worthy of their talents and experience."

He said after being separated from their families and risking their lives, "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, I've directed the federal government to lead by example -- and already, we've hired 120,000 veterans," Obama said. "We've also challenged private companies to hire or train 100,000 post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. So far, many patriotic companies have answered the call, hiring more than 16,000 Americans."

Obama touted the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, intended to provide federal tax breaks to businesses that hire unemployed veterans with service-related disabilities, which was passed Thursday by the Senate. He said the House "should pass this bill as soon as possible so I can sign it into law."

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