Political Headlines November 11, 2012: President Barack Obama Marks Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Marks Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-11-12

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Honoring the nation’s military “heroes over the generations, who have served this country of ours with distinction,” President Barack Obama today participated in Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

After laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the president spoke on the grounds’ memorial amphitheater to tell assembled military and their families that Nov. 11 would forever belong to them and, “every service member who has ever worn our nation’s uniform.”

“On behalf of the American people, I say to you that the memory of your loved one carries on not just in your hearts, but in ours as well.  And I assure you that their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he said. “For it is in that sacrifice that we see the enduring spirit of America.  Since even before our founding, we have been blessed with an unbroken chain of patriots who have always come forward to serve.”…READ MORE

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Full Text February 3, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Creating a Veterans Job Corps

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Creating a Veterans Job Corps

Source: WH, 2-3-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Veterans Job Corp (February 3, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Veterans Job Corp and the economy while speaking at Fire Station #5 in Arlington, Va., Feb. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Even with the news that the economy added 257,000 private sector jobs in January, there is more work to do to help our veterans returning from war find new jobs at home. And this morning, President Obama visited a fire station in Arlington, Virginia to discuss a new set of ideas to do just that — including a Veterans Job Corps.

In the State of the Union, President Obama said:

[Our] freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they’ve served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.

That’s a sentiment the President echoed today at Fire Station #5:

Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got.  These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract. These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country. So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.

Already, the Obama Administration has helped 600,000 veterans and their family members go back to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and hired more than 120,000 veterans to serve in the federal government. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have worked with the private sector to secure a pledge from businesses to hire 135,000. And President Obama worked with Congress last fall to pass two new tax credits for companies that put veterans to work.

Now President Obama is making a new push to help veterans build the lives the deserve. In Arlington, he called for three new initiatives.

First, President Obama is working to help state and local communities hire veterans to work as first responders. The administration will make available $166 million in 2012 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant funding and $320 million in 2012 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and award that money with a preference to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans. The President’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year will include additional $5 billion for these grant programs.

Second, the President is working to develop a Veterans Job Corps conservation program that will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years. They’ll work to restore habitats, eradicate invasive species, maintain public lands, and operate public facilities.

Third, President Obama wants to expand entrepreneurship training opportunities for service members and veterans. Back in August, the Administration established a two-day course in entrepreneurship as part of the Transition Assistance Program with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, along with the Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers an eight week online training program that will teach the fundamentals of small business ownership to more than 10,000 veterans every year.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Veterans Job Corps

Fire Station #5
Arlington, Virginia

11:30 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Thank you, guys.  (Applause.) Thank you so much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!

THE PRESIDENT:  Jacob, thank you for that introduction.  More importantly, thank you for your extraordinary service to our country.

I want to acknowledge two outstanding members of my Cabinet who are here today — Secretary of Veterans Affairs Ric Shinseki is in the house, also one of our finest — (applause) — himself, one of our finest veterans and obviously an extraordinary leader when he was in our Army.  And I also want to acknowledge Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who’s in the house.  (Applause.)

And we’re joined by another president — the International Association of Firefighters president, Harold Schaitberger, is here.  (Applause.)

Now, this is a fire station that holds some special significance for our country.  On September 11th, the firefighters of this house were among the first to respond to the attack on the Pentagon.  You guys answered this nation’s call during its hour of need.  And in the years that followed, as Americans went to war, some of you answered that call as well.

Today’s 9/11 generation of veterans has already earned a special place in our history.  Our veterans — and all the brave men and women who serve our country — are the reason why America’s military is the greatest in the history of the world.  In the face of great odds and grave danger, they get the job done.  They work as a team.  They personify the very best that America has to offer.

That’s true on the battlefront.  But we’re here today because it’s also true on the home front.  After a decade of war, our nation needs to do some building right here in the United States of America.

Now, this morning, we received more good news about our economy.  In January, American businesses added another 257,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate came down because more people found work.  And altogether, we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs over the last 23 months.

Now, these numbers will go up and down in the coming months, and there’s still far too many Americans who need a job, or need a job that pays better than the one they have now.  But the economy is growing stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  And we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep it going.

We can’t go back to the policies that led to the recession. And we can’t let Washington stand in the way of our recovery.  We want Washington to be helping with the recovery, not making it tougher.

The most important thing Congress needs to do right now is to stop taxes from going up on 160 million Americans at the end of this month.  They’ve got to renew the payroll tax cut that they extended only for a couple of months.  They need to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance — and do it without drama, without delay, without linking it to some ideological side issues.  They just need to get it done.  It shouldn’t be that complicated.  Now is not the time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy.  Now is the time for action.

So I want to send a clear message to Congress:  Do not slow down the recovery that we’re on.  Don’t muck it up.  Keep it moving in the right direction.  (Applause.)

Beyond preventing a tax hike, we need to do a lot more to create an economy that’s built to last.  To restore American manufacturing, we need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas; give those tax breaks to companies that are investing in plants and equipment and hiring workers right here in the United States of America.  That makes a lot of sense.

To reduce our dependency on foreign oil, we need to stop subsidizing oil companies that are already making record profits, and double down on clean energy, that creates jobs and creates opportunities in new industries but also improves our security, because we’re not as dependent on foreign oil.

To make sure our businesses don’t have to move overseas to find skilled workers, we’ve got to invest in education, and make sure college is affordable for every hardworking American.

And — this is the reason we’re here today — we need to make sure that as our troops return from battle, they can find a job when they get home.  That’s what I want to talk about today. (Applause.)

The war in Iraq is over.  The war in Afghanistan is moving to a new phase — we’re transitioning to Afghan lead.  Over the past decade, nearly 3 million service members have transitioned back to civilian life, and more are joining them every day.

When these men and women come home, they bring unparalleled skills and experience.  Folks like Jacob — they’ve saved lives in some of the toughest conditions imaginable.  They’ve managed convoys and moved tons of equipment over dangerous terrain.  They’ve tracked millions of dollars of military assets.  They’ve handled pieces of equipment that are worth tens of millions of dollars.  They do incredible work.  Nobody is more skilled, more precise, more diligent, more disciplined.

Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got.  These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract.  These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country.  So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.

Now, this has been a top priority of mine since I came into office.  Already, we’ve helped 600,000 veterans and their family members go back to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.  We’ve hired over 120,000 veterans to serve in the federal government.  We’ve made it easier for veterans to access all sorts of employment services.  We’ve set up online tools to connect veterans with job openings that match their skills.

Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with the private sector, with businesses, to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families.  And with the support of Democrats and Republicans, we’ve put in place two new tax credits for companies that hire veterans.

So these are all important steps.  We’ve made progress.  But we’ve got to do more.  There’s more we can do.

In my State of the Union address, I proposed a new initiative, called the Veterans Jobs Corps, to put veterans back to work protecting and rebuilding America.  And today, we’re laying out the details of this proposal.

First, we want to help communities hire more veterans as cops and firefighters.  You guys have seen what a great job Jacob is doing.  Well, there are a whole bunch of folks like that who could be doing that same outstanding work all across the country. But it’s not that easy these days to get a job at a firehouse.

Over the past few years, tight budgets have forced a lot of states, a lot of local communities to lay off a lot of first responders.  Now, my administration — when I first came into office, one of the first things we did was, through the Recovery Act, make sure that states and local governments helped — or got the help that they needed to prevent some of these layoffs.  And thousands of jobs were saved all across the country.

Harold and I were talking as we came over here — thousands of firefighter jobs were saved because of the actions we took. But budgets are still tight, and that’s a problem we need to fix. Jobs that protect our families and our communities shouldn’t be the first on the chopping block.  They should be one of our highest priorities as a nation.

Over the past three years, my administration has made it possible for states to keep thousands of first responders on the job.  But today, we’re announcing that communities who make it a priority to recruit veterans will be among the first in line when it comes to getting help from the federal government.

And I know that’s one of the things, Chief, that you’ve been doing here in Arlington.

So we want to prioritize veterans and we want to help states and local communities hire veterans to firehouses and police stations all across the country.

The second thing we want to do is to connect up to 20,000 veterans with jobs that involve rebuilding local communities or national parks.  That’s why Ken Salazar is here as the Interior Secretary.  He needs some help.  And our veterans are highly qualified to help him.  They’ve already risked their lives defending America.  They should have the opportunity to rebuild America.  We’ve got roads and bridges in and around our national parks in need of repair.  Let’s fix them.

Of course, Congress needs to fund these projects.  Congress should take the money that we’re no longer spending on war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building here at home, to improve the quality of life right here in the United States of America — (applause) — and put our veterans to work.  (Applause.)

So let’s get more cops on the beat.  Let’s gets more rangers in the parks.  Let’s get more firefighters on call.  And, in the process, we’re going to put more veterans back to work.  It’s good for our communities, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for our country.

And for veterans who want to do something else — maybe put their leadership skills to use starting a small business — we’re going to start offering entrepreneurial training to our veterans. We want service members prepared for battle — and for professional success when they come home.  So we should do all that we can to support our troops and our veterans — in helping them start a business, in helping them get a foothold in a fire station like this one, and start moving up the ranks, doing outstanding work the way Jacob has been doing.

But we also need to follow their lead.  We want to help them, but we should also learn from them.  We should remember from our veterans that no matter what the circumstances, those men and women in uniform — a lot like the firefighters in this fire station — work together.  Act as a team.  Finish the job. That’s what we’ve got to do when it comes to our nation’s recovery.

These are challenging times for America, but we’ve faced challenging times before.  On the grounds here you’ve got a stone from the Pentagon and a beam from the World Trade Center.  And that reminds us of our resolve as a people.  They remind us that when we come together as one people and as one community, one nation, then we prevail.  That’s who we are.

This is a nation that exists because generations of Americans worked together to build it.  This is a nation where, out of many, we come together as one.  Those are the values that every veteran understands.  Those are values that this fire station understands.  We’ve got to make sure that we return to those values.  And if we do, then I guarantee you we’ll remind everybody around the world just why it is the United States is the greatest country on Earth.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
11:44 P.M. EST

Full Text November 11, 2011: President Obama Honors Veterans at Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran’s Day

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Honors Veterans at Arlington National Cemetery

Source: WH, 11-11-11

Veterans Day 2011

President Barack Obama places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, to mark Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama honored the millions of Americans who have served in our nation’s military by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. After the ceremony, the President thanked veterans for their service, their sacrifice, and their extraordinary accomplishments:

To all our nation’s veterans:  Whether you fought in Salerno or Samarra, Khe Sanh or the Korengal, you are part of an unbroken chain of men and women who have served this country with honor and distinction.  On behalf of a proud and grateful nation, we thank you.

When I spoke here on this day two years ago, I said there would be a day before long when this generation of servicemen and women would begin to step out of uniform.  And I made them a promise.  I said that when your tour ends, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil -– you will be home in an America that is forever here for you, just as you’ve been there for us.

For many, that day has come.  Over the past decade, more than 5 million Americans have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. Of these, 3 million stepped forward after the attacks of September 11th, knowing full well that they could be sent into harm’s way.  And in that time, they have served in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Their service has been selfless. Their accomplishments have been extraordinary.

In Iraq, they have battled a brutal insurgency, trained new security forces and given the Iraqi people the opportunity to forge a better future.  In Afghanistan, they have pushed back the Taliban, decimated al Qaeda, and delivered the ultimate justice to Osama bin Laden.  In concert with our allies, they have helped end Qaddafi’s brutal dictatorship and returned Libya to its people.

Because of their incredible efforts, we can stand here today and say with confidence -– the tide of war is receding. In just a few weeks, the long war in Iraq will finally come to an end. Our transition in Afghanistan is moving forward.  My fellow Americans, our troops are coming home.

President Obama also spoke about the importance of making sure our veterans, who chose to serve a call greater than themselves, are able to take full advantage of the opportunity they helped secure through their service:

So on this Veterans Day, let us commit ourselves to keep making sure that our veterans receive the care and benefits that they have earned; the opportunity they defend and deserve; and above all, let us welcome them home as what they are — an integral, essential part of our American family.

See, when our men and women sign up to become a soldier or a sailor, an airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman, they don’t stop being a citizen. When they take off that uniform, their service to this nation doesn’t stop, either. Like so many of their predecessors, today’s veterans come home looking to continue serving America however they can. At a time when America needs all hands on deck, they have the skills and the strength to help lead the way.

Our government needs their patriotism and sense of duty. And that’s why I’ve ordered the hiring of more veterans by the federal government. Our economy needs their tremendous talents and specialized skills.  So I challenged our business leaders to hire 100,000 post-9/11 veterans and their spouses over the next few years and yesterday, many of these leaders joined Michelle to announce that they will meet that challenge.

The President said that veterans themselves are proof that there is no challenge too difficult to face:

We know it will be hard.  We have to overcome new threats to our security and prosperity, and we’ve got to overcome the cynical voices warning that America’s best days are behind us. But if there is anything our veterans teach us, it’s that there is no threat we cannot meet; there is no challenge we cannot overcome. America’s best days are still ahead. And the reason for that is because we are a people who defy those voices that insist otherwise.  We are a country that does what is necessary for future generations to succeed.

Click here to read the full remarks

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Veterans Day

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

11:40 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Ric Shinseki, for your extraordinary service to our country and your tireless commitment to our veterans; to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; to Chairman Dempsey and Mrs. Dempsey; to our wonderful veterans service organizations for the extraordinary work that you do for our nation’s heroes; to all who tend to and watch over this sacred cemetery; and above all, to every active duty member, Guardsman, Reservist, and veteran of the United States Armed Forces.

There are many honors and responsibilities that come with this job.  But none are more humbling than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.  And I’m proud to be with so many of you here today.

Here, where our heroes come to rest, we come to show our gratitude.  A few moments ago, I laid a wreath to pay tribute to all who have given their lives to our country.  For even though this is a day we rightly honor America’s veterans, we gather today in solemn respect -– mindful that we are guests here; mindful that we share this hallowed space with a family’s moment of quiet grief; mindful that many veterans not far from here are tracing their fingers over black granite for friends who never came home –- and expect us to do all we can to bring every missing American service member home to their families.

To all our nation’s veterans:  Whether you fought in Salerno or Samarra, Khe Sanh or the Korengal, you are part of an unbroken chain of men and women who have served this country with honor and distinction.  On behalf of a proud and grateful nation, we thank you.

When I spoke here on this day two years ago, I said there would be a day before long when this generation of servicemen and women would begin to step out of uniform.  And I made them a promise.  I said that when your tour ends, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil -– you will be home in an America that is forever here for you, just as you’ve been there for us.  (Applause.)

For many, that day has come.  Over the past decade, more than 5 million Americans have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces.  Of these, 3 million stepped forward after the attacks of September 11th, knowing full well that they could be sent into harm’s way.  And in that time, they have served in some of the world’s most dangerous places.  Their service has been selfless.  Their accomplishments have been extraordinary.

In Iraq, they have battled a brutal insurgency, trained new security forces and given the Iraqi people the opportunity to forge a better future.  In Afghanistan, they have pushed back the Taliban, decimated al Qaeda, and delivered the ultimate justice to Osama bin Laden.  In concert with our allies, they have helped end Qaddafi’s brutal dictatorship and returned Libya to its people.

Because of their incredible efforts, we can stand here today and say with confidence -– the tide of war is receding.  In just a few weeks, the long war in Iraq will finally come to an end.  (Applause.)  Our transition in Afghanistan is moving forward.  My fellow Americans, our troops are coming home.  (Applause.)

For many military families, this holiday season will be a season of homecomings.  And over the next five years, more than 1 million Americans in uniform will transition back to civilian life, joining the nearly 3 million who have done so over the past decade and embraced a proud new role, the role of veteran.

This generation of service members -– this 9/11 Generation -– has borne the burden of our security during a hard decade of sacrifice.  Our servicemen and women make up less than 1 percent of Americans, but also more than 1 million military spouses and 2 million children and millions more parents and relatives — all of whom have shared the strains of deployment and sacrificed on behalf of the country that we love.

Only 27 years old on average, these young men and women have shattered the false myth of their generation’s apathy, for they came of age in an era when so many institutions failed to live up to their responsibilities.  But they chose to serve a cause greater than their selves.  They saw their country threatened.  But they signed up to confront that threat.  They felt some tug, they answered some call, and they said, Let’s go.  And they’ve earned their place among the greatest of generations.  (Applause.)

That is something for America to be proud of.  That is the spirit America needs now — a stronger, newer spirit of service and of sacrifice.  That spirit that says, What can I do to help?  What can I do to serve?  That spirit that says, When my country is challenged, I will do my part to meet that challenge.

So on this Veterans Day, let us commit ourselves to keep making sure that our veterans receive the care and benefits that they have earned; the opportunity they defend and deserve; and above all, let us welcome them home as what they are — an integral, essential part of our American family.  (Applause.)

See, when our men and women sign up to become a soldier or a sailor, an airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman, they don’t stop being a citizen.  When they take off that uniform, their service to this nation doesn’t stop, either.  Like so many of their predecessors, today’s veterans come home looking to continue serving America however they can.  At a time when America needs all hands on deck, they have the skills and the strength to help lead the way.

Our government needs their patriotism and sense of duty.  And that’s why I’ve ordered the hiring of more veterans by the federal government.  (Applause.)  Our economy needs their tremendous talents and specialized skills.  So I challenged our business leaders to hire 100,000 post-9/11 veterans and their spouses over the next few years and yesterday, many of these leaders joined Michelle to announce that they will meet that challenge.  (Applause.)

Our communities have always drawn strength from our veterans’ leadership.  Think of all who have come home and settled on in a quiet life of service — as a doctor or a police officer, an engineer or an entrepreneur, as a mom or a dad — and in the process, changed countless lives.  Other veterans seek new adventures from taking on a new business to building a team of globetrotting veterans who use skills learned in combat to help after a natural disaster.

There are also so many in this young generation who still feel that tug to serve, but just don’t quite know where to turn.  So on this Veterans Day, I ask every American, recruit our veterans.  If you’re a business owner, hire them.  If you’re a community leader — a mayor, a pastor or a preacher — call on them to join your efforts.  Organize your community to make a sustained difference in the life of a veteran because that veteran can make an incredible difference in the life of your community.

If you’re a veteran looking for new ways to serve, check out Serve.gov.  If you’re a civilian looking for new ways to support our veterans and our troops, join Michelle and Jill Biden at JoiningForces.gov.  Find out what you can do.  There is no such thing as too small a difference.  That effort you make may have the biggest impact.

I say this because recently, I received a letter from a Vietnam veteran.  She wasn’t writing to tell me about her own experience.  She just wanted to tell me about her son, Jeremy.  Now, Jeremy isn’t deployed, Jeremy’s not a veteran, or even in the military at all, as badly as he wants to follow in the footsteps of his family and enlist.  You see, Jeremy has Down Syndrome.

So Jeremy chooses to serve where he can best -– with his local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter in Beaver, Pennsylvania.  He calls them “the soldiers”.  And one day last spring, Jeremy spent the day with several of these veterans cleaning up a local highway.

“He worked tirelessly,” wrote his mother.  “He never asked to take a break.  He didn’t stop to talk about his beloved Steelers.  He didn’t even ask for anything to eat or drink.  He only asked for one thing, several times –- ‘Mom, will President Obama be proud of me for helping the soldiers?’”

Well, Jeremy, I want you to know, yes, I am proud of you.  I could not be prouder of you, and your country is proud of you.  Thank you for serving our veterans by helping them to continue their service to America.

And Jeremy’s example — one young man’s example — is one that we must all now follow.  Because after a decade of war, the nation we now need to build is our own.  And just as our Greatest Generation left a country recovering from Depression and returned home to build the largest middle class in history, so now will the 9/11 Generation play a pivotal role in rebuilding America’s opportunity and prosperity in the 21st century.

We know it will be hard.  We have to overcome new threats to our security and prosperity, and we’ve got to overcome the cynical voices warning that America’s best days are behind us.  But if there is anything our veterans teach us, it’s that there is no threat we cannot meet; there is no challenge we cannot overcome.  America’s best days are still ahead.  And the reason for that is because we are a people who defy those voices that insist otherwise.  We are a country that does what is necessary for future generations to succeed.  (Applause.)

You, our veterans, fight so our children won’t have to.  We build and we invent and we learn so that we will know greater opportunity.  America leads so that the next generation, here and around the world, will know a more hopeful life on this Earth.

So today, I thank you all for making that possible.  God bless you.  God bless our veterans and our troops, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END 11:51 A.M. EST

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