President Barack Obama pledged to improve veterans’ access to health care and jobs during a speech in honor of Veterans Day today at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
“After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home,” Obama said, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. “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.”
Obama said he will continue to support the Post-9/11 GI bill, which provides financial support for education to individuals who served after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The program Joining Forces, headed by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, has helped to hire or train 125,000 veterans and military spouses, Obama said.
The jobless rate for veterans who have served since the attacks was 12.1 percent last year, up from 11.5 percent in 2010, according to Department of Labor. The unemployment rate of all veterans in the U.S. was 6.3 percent in October.
Obama also said he “won’t let up” in addressing the backlog of disability claims filed by American veterans. “No veteran should have to wait months or years for the benefits that you’ve earned,” he said.
Following his speech, Obama greeted a crowd gathered at a part of the cemetery used for those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Michelle Obama, Biden and his wife also attended the event. Earlier in the day, the Obamas held a breakfast for veterans and their families at the White House.
Veterans Day, held each year on Nov. 11, is the official holiday to honor men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces.