Obama: Vets' treatment 'defining issue'

May 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday treatment of military veterans "is the defining issue of our time" and will require "making responsible choices."

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama reminded listeners of his trip to Afghanistan this week and said while the "enormous sacrifices of our men and women in uniform are not over," many troops are or will soon be coming home. He said "after more than a decade of war, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home."

"As a new greatest generation returns from overseas, we must ask ourselves, what kind of country will they come back to? Will it be a country where a shrinking number of Americans do really well while a growing number barely get by? Or will it be a country where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules -- a country with opportunity worthy of the troops who protect us?"

Obama recounted the benefits of the GI Bill and the nation's history of turning out an educated workforce -- which he called "a story of success that every American had the chance to share in, the basic American promise that if you work hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement."

"Keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time," the president said. "But it means making responsible choices.

"I don't think we should prioritize things like more tax cuts for millionaires while cutting the kinds of investments that built a strong middle class," he said.

"That's why I've called on Congress to take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the other half to rebuild America," Obama said. "Because we've got more jobs to create. More students to educate. More clean energy to generate. More entrepreneurs with the next great idea, just looking for their shot at success. We've got to invest in things like education and medical research. We've got to build newer, faster transportation and communication networks. And we've got to secure the care and benefits our veterans have earned, so that we serve them as well as they have served us."

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