Obama hails veterans, pledges continued support

ARLINGTON, Virginia Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:41pm EST

1 of 7. U.S. President Barack Obama applauds for military veterans during a Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, November 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) - President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to mark the Veterans Day holiday on Sunday, declaring that soldiers' needs would be met even as the country winds down wars in the Middle East and Asia.

In the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Obama pledged continuing support for veterans as they make the transition to civilian life.

"This is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops fighting and dying in Iraq," the president said at the cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, where soldiers' graves are marked with row upon row of simple white stones.

"After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home," he said. "Over the next few years more than a million service members will transition back to civilian life."

The president touted the work of first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, for their work in the Joining Forces campaign, which urges businesses to hire veterans. He also reaffirmed his commitment to continuing the post-9/11 GI Bill program, which provides college education funding for those who have served, and said soldiers suffering war-related health problems will get the care they need.

"No one who fights for this country overseas should ever have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home," he said.

After the ceremony, Obama visited with people in an area of the cemetery known as Section 60, where many of the solders who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried.

The Democratic president won re-election to a second four-year term on Tuesday and now faces tough negotiations with Republican congressional leaders to avoid sharp spending cuts that loom at the end of the year. A big chunk of those reductions would come through a decline in defense spending.

During the campaign, Obama and Biden regularly pledged their commitment to bringing troops home from Afghanistan and taking care of American veterans. Obama criticized his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, for failing to mention the war in Afghanistan during his speech to the Republican National Convention.

(Reporting by Samson Reiny, writing by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (12)
AZWarrior wrote:
Meanwhile, he has his administration gutting TriCare.

Nov 11, 2012 3:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Wassup wrote:
As a veteran and patriot, what I remember about how Mr. Obama displays patriotism is his failure to salute the flag, his half hearted display of interest when placing a wreath at the grave of the unknown soldier and his taking credit for the killing of bin Laden. I do not for one minute believe that he has any respect for our military. He seems to have forgotten our wonderful troops in Afganistan who fight bravely on. Taking credit for getting out of Iraq is shallow and typical of Mr. Obama, our newly elected to the office of President. His remarks smack of political expediency at best. Is he gutting TriCare? Does he believe vets should pay for their own insurance for wounds gotten in the line of battle saying it was their choice to serve? Two faced? You decide.

Nov 11, 2012 4:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Mooskamao wrote:
For most veterans the greatest battle they will fight will be with the self serving US Government (Veterans Administration)!

Nov 11, 2012 4:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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