Obama announces new efforts for vets in politically tinged North Carolina visit
August 26th, 2014
07:15 AM ET
4 months ago

Obama announces new efforts for vets in politically tinged North Carolina visit

Updated 2:05 p.m. ET, 8/26/2014

Charlotte (CNN) – President Barack Obama detailed Tuesday how his administration is attempting to rectify shortfalls in caring for war veterans, just as new threats abroad could require more sacrifices for American military families.

Speaking at the annual American Legion conference in Charlotte, Obama announced new executive actions aimed at improving mental health services and financial opportunities for servicemen and women, months after allegations of massive wrongdoing surfaced at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

His remarks came as the United States contemplates further action to stem the expansion of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, including airstrikes. The President declared in front of roughly 7,000 legionnaires in Charlotte on Tuesday he was ready to “take direct action where needed to protect our people and to defend our homeland,” but added that under no circumstances would American combat troops return to Iraq.

“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won't be easy, and it won't be quick,” Obama said, using the administration's name for the terrorist group which last week beheaded an American freelance journalist, James Foley.

“Our message to anyone who harms our people is simple: America does not forget our reach is long. We are patient. Justice will be done,” he said.

The actions to improve veterans care Obama announced Tuesday included expanding research into post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries, developing ways to prevent suicide among veterans, and making it easier for veterans to transition into mental health services provided by civilian doctors or the VA after leaving active duty.

The President also announced new partnerships with financial lenders to make it easier for veterans to negotiate lower mortgage and student loan interest rates.

The systemic problems within the veterans’ department led to the resignation of Eric Shinseki, a retired Army general who had headed the troubled agency since Obama took office in 2009. The American Legion, whose annual conference Obama spoke at Tuesday, was among several veterans groups calling for Shinseki to step down.

His replacement, former corporate chief Robert McDonald, was approved unanimously by the Senate at the end of July. Lawmakers also green-lighted $16 billion in new funding to build more VA facilities and hire more workers, though some said the measure didn’t do enough to criminalize the wrongdoing at the agency.

Obama on Tuesday said revelations veterans waited months for care while managers attempted to cover it up were “outrageous and inexcusable.”

“We’re focused on this at the highest levels,” Obama told the American Legion crowd. “We are going to get to the bottom of these problems. We're going to fix what is wrong. We're going to do right by you. And we are going to do right by your families. And that is a solemn pledge and commitment that I'm making to you here.”

His appearance in North Carolina comes as that state’s incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan faces a tough battle for re-election. Attacks by her Republican rival heavily feature her support for some of Obama’s more controversial programs.

It was initially unclear whether Obama and Hagan would appear together Tuesday. She greeted Obama with a hug and a kiss on the cheek on the tarmac after Air Force One’s arrival. She also spoke after him on the American Legion stage.

But before their friendly encounter, Hagan released a statement saying Obama’s administration hasn’t yet done enough to regain the trust of veterans after the agency scandal.


Filed under: President Obama • Veterans • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Redme

    The country should take care of our Vets . But many citizens or whatever are just committing welfare fraud and thinks the world owes them ? Some women just get payed to have a baby put up in a house and get a 6000 dollar refund from the i.r.s. at the end of the year and more perks just for making bad choices and 75 % kids dont even have a dad present in the mix . We need to stop rewarding these leaches with our hard earn money .

    August 26, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. rs

    Freedom Storm

    43 Democrats in the Senate have signed onto a bill to effectively repeal the First Amendment. This month a cloture motion was introduced in order to stop debate and move the bill forward.
    S.J.Res.19 would effectively give Congress the power to control any political speech in the United States.
    Led by Harry Reid, the bill would eliminate the ability of campaigns, political parties and outside groups to spend money in elections. We would all like to see corruption via campaign spending to end, but to eliminate the 1st Amendment is not the way to do it.
    Limiting or ending your rights is often initiated under the guise of addressing a problem 'we all agree on' and this is no different.
    ________________________
    The RWNJ Conspiracy award today goes to......

    August 26, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. smith

    @Rudy-I believe most news stations covered the US military`s use of force in Libya as we as the US sending aid to Syrian rebels.

    August 26, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. FidyCents

    This president is going to be dealing with a firestorm if he thinks his policy on terrorism is right for the country. He has constantly ignored his military advisers on this issue from day one.

    August 26, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. FidyCents

    Wind down what? Obama and his clueless policies have allowed groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to flourish during his tenure.

    August 26, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    sniffit wrote:

    " ... ... You know, I've been reading your back and forth on this active duty/number of employed soldiers garbledigoop and I still haven't figured out what your freekin point is. Setting aside who is right about whether Obama lowered troop levels or whatever, are you saying we should just have and pay as many soldiers as possible at all times, even when not needed? ... ..."
    -------------------------–
    He's only saying that because he painted himself into a corner. What started the whole thing is him asserting that Obama has been making cuts to the military by laying off [taking off active duty] military personnel. So, I asked the isolationist what country should we send our troops, putting them back onto active duty. His solution, let them sit at home and collect paychecks for doing nothing, which, of course, is another hypocrisy because of the spending. Meanwhile, he's been patting himself on the back for yet another witty victory over the liberals.

    August 26, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "43 Democrats in the Senate have signed onto a bill to effectively repeal the First Amendment"

    No it doesn't, but you've done a bang-up job of regurgitating the Christian right's desperate attempts to mischaracterize it and demagogue it to the GOP/Teatroll base.

    August 26, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Chris..E.Al

    I wonder if 0bama golf game is better than his lame leadership capabilities or is it in the bunker to ?

    August 26, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Is there anything that RWNJs won't lie about? Didn't think so. Is there anything RWNJs are not afraid of? Can't think of anything. Market goes up, they are scared. Deficit goes down, they are scared. Allowing all Americans to vote scares them. Minimum wage increase is devastating to them. Social security and Medicare are making them afraid. Helping veterans has them hiding in corners. There's more.

    August 26, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Rudy-I believe most news stations covered the US military`s use of force in Libya as we as the US sending aid to Syrian rebels.
    -----------------------
    You suggested that the U.S. started the uprisings. The NATO allies did far more in Libya than what the U.S. did. Remember that whole leading from behind thing, where Pres. Obama told the Europeans to clean up the mess that they had left behind in their former colony states.

    The governments that the various European nations had set up have been coming apart at the seams as of late. The U.S. supported France in their effort to unseat Kaddafi in Libya. America had nothing to do with creating the uprising in Libya, nor any of the other nations that had experienced an "Arab Spring", including Egypt and Syria.

    August 26, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Frustrated Vet

    As usual Obama and his gang are a day late and a dollar short. We pay politions to head off this kind of stuff. Please people, vote out the incumbent! Especially the sleepers that have been in Congress for decades!

    August 26, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Gavin

    I could not help but notice the muted reaction to the President's speech at the veteran's conference. Our veterans like most Americans are starting to realize this President has no real strategy or program for dealing with terrorists either abroad or at home.

    August 26, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    ""43 Democrats in the Senate have signed onto a bill to effectively repeal the First Amendment"

    No it doesn't, but you've done a bang-up job of regurgitating the Christian right's desperate attempts to mischaracterize it and demagogue it to the GOP/Teatroll base."

    Ooops, lemme correct myself...I thought you were referring to the one intended to undo the Hobby Lobby ruling. The text of 19 is as follows:

    "Article–

    "Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
    "Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.
    "Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.".

    As an Amendment to the Constitution, that language would clearly not destroy or obviate the 1st Amendment. Rather, it would return us to what everyone has believed was permitted for the past 100 years and that the SCOTUS only recently screwed up because the conservatives are so desperate to further plutocracy in an attempt to save themselves from demographic shifts. Campaign spending and fundraising has been subject to limits for years and years and the conservatives on the SCOTUS ignored long-standing precedent to make their recent rulings. If you think fairness, equality and equity in the electoral process are furthered by allowing Person A to buy his politicians while Person B gets ignored for being too poor to compete on donations, then you are a fool...a complete and utter fool who doesn't have even the first rudimentary clue about democracy....particularly when we start adding in the fact that Person A, who is buying up politicians, is frequently a non-living statutory golem known as a corporation while Person B, who gets ignored completely, is a living, breathing, family-having human being.

    August 26, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. The REAL Truth...

    "S.J.Res.19 would effectively give Congress the power to control any political speech in the United States."
    ------------–
    LOL – the utter ignorance of those on the right who think that undoing the effects of Citizens United and 1st Am rights extending to political contributions (those with more $$ have more "free speech" rights) is a bad thing, are hopelessly naive.
    Read the text .. heck.. even the Title gives those with a functioning brain some clue as to the content... "A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections."

    August 26, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Duke

    This guy will give away the ranch to whichever vested group he addresses.

    August 26, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. 100% Service Disabled Veteran Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, etc...

    The VA has been and is currently mismanaged. I do not think it is reasonable in any stretch of the imagination to continue fund the VA in the same manner. I find it amazing our President would give the VA so much additional funding when it is more than obvious there is no Management or Oversight at the VA. Why would you continue to fund a broken VA system and think you will get different results? The VA is broken and should be fixed before we give them such additional funding. We all now any private healthcare system could manage the funds and healthcare much better and at a reduced costs and save tax payers billions easily. It is not reasonable to continue to "throw" money at the problem because all it does is make people in congress richer....... Why else would they continue to fund such a broken system?

    August 26, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Tone

    I am a vet, and i can remember as far back as the nineties Republicans were the only ones voting against vets in congress things like raise of pay, benefits, medical care etc, and they are doing it today .A bunch of wothless pieces.

    August 26, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. sonny chapman

    So Gavin, what is the Repub. Foreign Policy Strategy? Bomb first, ask questions later ? Goes along with their Domestic Policy, Tax Cuts for the Rich & Deregulation ? And we'll all live happily ever-after.

    August 26, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. smith

    @Malory-From the DOD` s website from 2009 til Feb of 2013 3,936 active duty members have been cut. The main cuts have been the Navy and the Marines.

    August 26, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. sly

    President Obama has prevented all foreign terrorist attacks in our great nation.

    America's biggest threat is the home-grown-white-kkk-terrorists. The Olympic Bomber. The Wacko from Waco. The Nevada Rancher.

    Thank you Mr. President – you have been the most effective President in history at preventing terrorism.

    August 26, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I know, right?
    -----------------------------------------------------
    This is what I'm saying babe, wtf?!
    Btw, I just admitted to not knowing a hill of beans about active reserves etc, so that admission debunks another one of their fallacies about how we never admit to being wrong or not knowing.
    They should try using the words "I don't know" every once in a while as opposed to doing all the crazy spinning, back-tracking and adding ons that they are wont to do just so that they don't have to admit to being clueless, or heavens forbid, wrong.
    By the by sweetie, you're starting to sound like a New Yawkah with some of your colloquialisms..".I know right"?!

    August 26, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Ol' Yeller

    @Gavin

    "I could not help but notice the muted reaction to the President's speech at the veteran's conference. Our veterans like most Americans are starting to realize this President has no real strategy or program for dealing with terrorists either abroad or at home."

    As opposed to a 'stratergy' (how bush always said it) of just invading a country with no real plan other than to bomb their most populated city... full of innocent families... with no provocation, send in troops, dismantle their military, police, and government, rake in profits on the oil...; or, just choosing a country where some 'terrists' (again, bush's pronunciation) might be holed up... I much prefer Obama's approach..

    BTW- to all the righties on here criticizing President Obama's handling of the crisis of the day, especially in regards to ISIS... this is what happens when you invade middle eastern countries willy nilly and choose sides in these century's old battles.... you make enemies, cause unseen (and unforseeable) problems, and become their number one recruiting tool. ISIS exists and will continue to exist (until destroyed) because of our cowboy approach to our problems and our previous village idiot president whose idea of a presidential statement on foreign policy when dealing with some very touchy issues was to say things like 'Bring it on!' and to swagger around with his little chicken hawk buddies wearing cowboy hats and other idiotic 'tough boy' costumes like he was the reincarnation of John Wayne (John Wayne was an actor... his real name was Marion. He was a Hollywood elite).

    Just remember this when you try and project these problems on Obama... they might BE his problems, but they were not created by him. Like the majority of his problems... this was created in somewhat the same manner as that time we let the juvenile delinquents stay in our house while we went on vacation for two weeks... they lied to us, they destroyed and/or damaged our stuff and our reputation, it has taken years to undo the damage... and everytime we think we have everything kind of taken care of, we find some new problems (neighbor's daughter pregnant!?!).

    The only difference between that scenario and this... if the juvenile delinquents got to stand on the sideline and criticize and blame while we were trying to clean their mess up... we have the option of punching them in the mouth.

    August 26, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Silence DoGood

    @Gavin
    I could not help but notice the muted reaction to the President's speech at the veteran's conference. Our veterans like most Americans are starting to realize this President has no real strategy or program for dealing with terrorists either abroad or at home.
    -----------
    The president has captured or killed many terrorists abroad and protected US soil from a serious foreign terrorist attack.
    What part of that did you not like?

    As far as terrorists domestically, I suggest contacting the head office with the Tea Party for an update.

    August 26, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    @Tone
    I am a vet, and i can remember as far back as the nineties Republicans were the only ones voting against vets in congress things like raise of pay, benefits, medical care etc, and they are doing it today .A bunch of wothless pieces.
    ----------
    And now they run around as if it is a big mystery to them how this came to be.
    “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!” – Casablanca

    August 26, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    " ... ... . I find it amazing our President would give the VA so much additional funding when it is more than obvious there is no Management or Oversight at the VA. ... .."
    ------------------
    I find it amazing that so many right wingers lack a knowledge of civics, such as the fact that all spending, all revenue related bills, must originate and is controlled by the House of Representatives, and not with the POTUS. In other words, the quoted sentence is as false as it can be.

    The fact of the matter is that the VA administrative budget has been cut every year since 2011 when the Tea Party took over the House. In order to correct their mistake, House Republicans passed an extra spending bill targeting the V.A.

    August 26, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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