With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks only a week and a half away, President Obama today thanked military veterans for their service and emphasized the need to care for them as they come home from war, especially with so many currently unemployed.
“As a nation, we’re facing tough choices as we put our fiscal house in order. But I want to be absolutely clear — we cannot, and we must not, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. And as commander in chief, I won’t allow it,” the president said to a standing ovation in a speech at the 93rd American Legion National Convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
“The bond between our forces and our citizens is a sacred trust. And for me and my administration, upholding that trust isn’t just a matter of policy. It’s not about politics. It’s a moral obligation,” he said.
Obama urged Congress to act immediately on his proposals to help the nearly 1 million unemployed veterans get back in the work force, including a “reverse boot camp” and tax credits for companies that hire service members.
“For the sake of our veterans, for the sake of our economy, we need these veterans working and contributing and creating the new jobs and industries that will keep America competitive in the 21st century,” he said. “These are the obligations we have to each other — our forces, our veterans, our citizens. These are the responsibilities we must fulfill. Not just when it’s easy, or when it’s convenient, but always.”
While Obama touted his support for veterans, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Texas attacked the president for portraying “weakness” in his foreign policy.
For his part, Obama avoided mentioning his 2012 opponents directly, opting instead to focus on his accomplishments, including the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden and efforts to improve health care services for veterans. Obama’s appearance here also came on the same day that August became the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
With the 9/11 anniversary around the corner, the president used the opportunity to pay special tribute to the “9/11 generation.”
“They were there, on duty, that September morning, having enlisted in a time of peace, but they instantly transitioned to a war-footing. They’re the millions of recruits who have stepped forward since, seeing their nation at war and saying ‘send me,’” he said.
Obama flew in to Minnesota earlier this morning for today’s speech before the nation’s largest gathering of veterans and their families. He returns to Washington, D.C., this afternoon.