Obama announces new efforts for vets in politically tinged North Carolina visit
August 26th, 2014
07:15 AM ET
3 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. Tone

    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.

    The Republiclowns only policy on terrorism is look the other way as demonstrated by the gop clowns in 2001 under bush you know their names. The only policy they have is let the terrorist bomb so that we can crank up the military industrial complex, and let the feeding frenzy begin all the while no care, jobs, job skills, many a times no homes for our returning, vets when they return home.

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

    @DM40-Uh sorry, as just posted to Malory from the DOD`s website 3.936 active duty members have been cut from Feb 2009 to Feb 2013.

    August 26, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. willhaas

    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.

    Our President just loves to travel at the tax payers expenxe and add CO2 to the atmosphere. He did not have to go to Charlotte to give thispeechch. He could have given it at the White House and the media would have broadcast it all over the world.

    The President promised to fix the VA's problems his first year in office so by now there must not be any shortfalls. It is the Vice President who said that they would not rest until the problems at the VA were fixed so they must all be very tired by now. How long can a human go without sleep?

    August 26, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @Tone
    I am a vet,
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Thank you for your service Tone, and God bless. Always.

    August 26, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. sly

    Hey GOP, how many vets died? Oh, zero? Another false scandal?

    Hey GOP, your parties Benghazi findings are complete. How many died because of us? Oh, zero? Another false scandal.

    How's that hunt for the Birth Certficate? Prez only has about a year left, so y'all better find it soon – after all, The Birth Certificate Scandal was the Republicans only accomplishment in 8 years (except shutting down America for a month!).

    Good times Americans – great to see the Party of Stupid flailing about birth certificates .... ho ho ho!

    August 26, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Tone

    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

    It is a shame that we have people who they duped into thinking that it is the President's fault, even those who have children serving on the frontline, the GOP's only god is the money, everytime we go to war their (GOP) feeding frenzy begins, their pockets get lined.

    August 26, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Tone

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @Tone
    I am a vet,
    -----------------–
    Thank you for your service Tone, and God bless. Always.

    You are welcome hon.

    August 26, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "By the by sweetie, you're starting to sound like a New Yawkah with some of your colloquialisms..".I know right"?!"

    I know, right? I've been married a New Yorker for nearly 40 years now.
    I know... I know...
    He's probably more Minnesotan than New Yorker after all these years, eh?

    August 26, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. jerry

    oh obama, you're going to actually finish Bushes revamp of the Veterans hospitals? Six years into his presidency, if you could call it a presidency.

    August 26, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Al

    Now that the VA has been cleared of any abuse or failure to do the right thing by and for our troops we can move forward and make it right. I never thought that the ruling would be any different than to protect this administration that for 6 years has made it known that there is a problem with the VA and that they were going to fix it. 6 years later, it's still broken, but there is Democrats ACA, which will be just a effective as the Vets have today with the VA.

    August 26, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Tone
    I am a vet,
    -----------------–
    Thank you for your service Tone, and God bless. Always.

    X 2

    August 26, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith

    @DM40-Uh sorry, as just posted to Malory from the DOD`s website 3.936 active duty members have been cut from Feb 2009 to Feb 2013
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Okay. Unless civilan employees are considered active duty members sounds to me like you and Mallory have some chatting to do.
    Thank you for the numbers and the source smith.
    Duly noted.

    August 26, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    How's that hunt for the Birth Certficate?

    It was right there... next to the wmd's.

    We swear!

    August 26, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...However smith, to Malory's point, she/he stated that there were more people serving currently than were serving in 2008.
    The fact that 3, 3936 have been cut from '09-'2013 does not make her point invalid.
    I'm submitting based on the numbers that you have both provided that it appears that even though 3,936 may have been cut the fact remains that there are still more people serving in the armed forces under this administration than there were before this President took office in 2009.

    August 26, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I don't think Mal's point was that NOBODY had been cut, her/his point was that regardless of how many have been cut more are currently serving than before.
    I'm done with this one though smith.
    You guys enjoy...

    August 26, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Name

    You msy want to make it easier for vets to get into the va...not all vets have all of their paperwork or the means to retrieve it...my husband cannot get in and get help because of this...and if he even does get in they want him to take meds that are so outrageously expensive he can't afford them.

    August 26, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Obviously Sniffin, Gurgling, and RS'n Ozass in Tampa

    Why is this "scandal" still coming up?!
    The "most transparent Administration in history"'s policy of obstruction is not working (refer to the group of Inspector Generals who filed several official complaints about officials not lawfully providing evidence or access to records).
    All they have to do is say that the records were on a hard drive that crashed and all is forgiven and forgotten.

    August 26, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC

    In basketball, they have a name for politicians like Rubio.... ... self-checked
    -----------------------------------------------------
    As they do in football....water-boy.

    August 26, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @DM40-Uh sorry, as just posted to Malory from the DOD`s website 3.936 active duty members have been cut from Feb 2009 to Feb 2013.
    ----------------------
    Wow, that many over four years! Sounds like people who suffered career ending injuries to me. How many did they sign up over that same period, smith. #NOTFOOLED

    @Tone – Salute that!

    August 26, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. tacpilot

    Thanks to the cut and run Democrats, the incompetence of Obama and Hillary, we are now in a mess that could have been prevented. They both the supported the big “Arab Spring”… and the Middle east is under the control of radical Muslims…..

    If you watched the President’s speech, the attendees were very polite. They know a crock of crap when they hear it…. But as good Troopers, they respected the Office…..

    Bush and Cheney were wrong… we should have never gone into Iraq… We should have concentrated on Afghanistan….. After being in Iraq and Afghanistan three times each, I have the right to say that….

    August 26, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. NC Independent

    @Tone Thank you for your service. You are correct about what happened to our Vets during the 90's. As of last month it is the first time since World War 2 we have no family members serving in the military.

    August 26, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. smith

    @Rudy-Thats been my point. We know there have been cuts but using plus or minus numbers from the last four years won`t show the amount of cuts( because the recruit factor is not added in). In a couple of years you might be able to tell by using numbers.

    August 26, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. Tampa Tim

    tac- the Middle East would not be in such a mess if Bush/Cheney had not lied us into a war that destabilized it. There was no ISIS in Iraq, no Al Qaida in Iraq. We will pay for Bush's incompetence for centuries.

    August 26, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. Tampa Tim

    When was the last time you heard "Cut and run?" Oh yeah, it was the rallying cry of the chicken hawks in 2004.

    August 26, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. Dean

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...However smith, to Malory's point, she/he stated that there were more people serving currently than were serving in 2008.
    The fact that 3, 3936 have been cut from '09-'2013 does not make her point invalid.
    I'm submitting based on the numbers that you have both provided that it appears that even though 3,936 may have been cut the fact remains that there are still more people serving in the armed forces under this administration than there were before this President took office in 2009

    Have you lost your mind? We have about 1.370 million in the military. This number is about par with pre WWII numbers and about half what we had in 1950. Obama Bin Lyin has reduced our military drastically.
    Try out that new fancy thing called Google and learn something.

    August 26, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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