By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2014 – As the Nov. 11 Veterans Day observance approaches, President Barack Obama used his weekly address today to commend service members throughout the nation’s history for their dedication and to encourage all Americans to honor their sacrifices by helping them succeed and get the support they’ve earned.
Noting that he soon will visit Asia, Obama credited America’s enduring commitment and its generations of uniformed service members for continued growth throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
“We salute that Greatest Generation, who freed a continent from fascism and fought across Pacific Islands to preserve our way of life,” the president said. “We pay tribute to Americans who defended the people of South Korea, soldiered through the brutal battles of Vietnam, stood up to a tyrant in Desert Storm and stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.”
End of War Means Beginning of Nation’s Obligation to Vets
Obama also lauded the 9/11 Generation, veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who next month will see America’s longest war come to what he called a responsible end. But the end of a war, he added, marks only the beginning of America’s obligations to those who serve.
In addition to imparting thanks and respect to veterans and their families, he emphasized, Americans should ensure they get the care and benefits they’ve earned whenever they need them.
“It means continuing to reduce the disability claims backlog, and it means giving our wounded warriors all the care and support they need to heal, including mental health care for those with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury,” Obama told the nation.
Some of his most moving moments as commander in chief have been with wounded warriors, the president said. “Some have to learn how to walk again, talk again, write their names again,” he added. “But no matter how hard it is, they never give up, they never quit, and we can’t ever quit on them.”
Veterans Deserve Opportunity for the ‘American Dream’
Ultimately, Obama said, veterans deserve their opportunity for the “American Dream” they risked their lives to defend. Facilitating job placement worthy of veterans’ skills and talents, and making sure the Post-9/11 GI Bill stays strong to provide veterans with a college education will yield success for all Americans, he added.
“When our veterans have the opportunity to succeed, our whole nation is stronger,” the president said. “Let’s work together to end the tragedy of homelessness among veterans once and for all -- because anyone who has defended America deserves to live in dignity in America.”
But the responsibility to honor veterans far exceeds the boundaries of government, the president stressed.
“It’s a job for every American,” he said. “We’re all keepers of that sacred trust that says, ‘If you put on a uniform and risk your life to keep us safe, we’ll do our part for you. We’ll make sure you and your family get the support you need. We’ll have your backs, just like you had ours.’