President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Veterans Day, honored former members of the U.S. Armed Forces and asked Congress to approve measures to improve their health care, education and job situation to facilitate their reincorporation into civilian life.
Obama gave a speech at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, where thousands of U.S. soldiers, former soldiers and many top U.S. leaders are buried, saying that the nation on this day recalled all those who gave their lives for our country.
In his remarks, the president acknowledged that much work remains to be done to successfully reintegrate U.S. war veterans into civilian life. He specifically mentioned the more than a million men and women who fought in the war in Afghanistan and the second Iraq war.
Before the event, the White House called upon Congress to approve measures to improve veterans’ access to health care, facilitate their requests for disability benefits, their access to social services they are entitled to for having served in the military, but where there have been enormous delays for many years.
“Our veterans are some of the most talented, driven, capable people on earth,” Obama said. “They can perform under pressure. They’ve helped rebuild towns and mediate disputes …. Our veterans will tell you themselves, they may have put away their uniforms, but they’re not finished serving their country.”
“The unacceptable problems that we’ve seen – like long wait times and some veterans not getting the care that they need – is a challenge for all of us if we’re going to match our words with deeds,” Obama said.
According to the latest survey by the Census Bureau carried out between 2009 and 2013, there are 21.5 million veterans in the United States, including 1.2 million Hispanics.
In the United States, Veterans Day originated in 1919 as Armistice Day to mark the first anniversary of the end of World War I.