March 16th, 2009
03:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama pledges more help for veterans

Joined by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the president pledged Monday to transform the agency responsible for looking after the nation's veterans.

Joined by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the president pledged Monday to transform the agency responsible for looking after the nation's veterans.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama pledged Monday to make good on his promise to transform the Department of Veterans Affairs, and said he would "dramatically improve" mental health aid.

Flanked by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the president said his budget calls for a $25 billion increase in funding for the VA over the next five years - a commitment that will be tested by the needs presented by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"With this budget, we don't just fully fund our Veterans Affairs health care program, we expand it to serve an additional 500,000 veterans by 2013," he said.

He promised that the VA would "dramatically improve services" related to mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury - and said homeless veterans would be targeted for support.

"Those heroes have a home," he said. "It's the country they served, the United States of America, and until we reach a day when not a single veteran sleeps on our nation's streets, our work remains unfinished."

Filed under: President Obama • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Joe Vanderbosch

    Bravo President Obama

    March 16, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Brian Crooks

    But, but, but, Bill O'Reilly said that there WERE no homeless veterans! I thought all the Republicans said President Obama hated the troops and didn't have any respect for them!

    On a serious note, though, this is great news. PTSD is nothing to joke about. For too long, it's been hidden or renamed to not provide any real aid to those who need it. These brave men and women are heroes and shouldn't be made to feel broken or inferior because of the trauma they endured overseas. We need to treat mental illness just like we treat physical injuries, once and for all.

    March 16, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Griff............... on The Truth...

    All of which, you were none. Mr Obama. Where did you serve in Defence of the USA? Living Rent-free, at the Tax payers expense?

    March 16, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Sam Sixpack

    Don't you just love "magic" money? Don't belive that silly rumor that China can crush us any time they want with our own debt.

    March 16, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Angie in PA

    WHAT A GREAT PRESIDENT HE IS!! GO BARACK OBAMA!! Thank god Mccain Lost he doesnt care about our Veterns!

    March 16, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. katiec

    Of course he will. President Obama cares about and represents all
    people. We Americans are so proud to have a person of integrity,
    intelligence and a sincere concern respresenting usl

    March 16, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Vietnam Combat Veteran

    Finally, a president who appreciates the sacrifices of America's vets!
    After 8 years of Republican hollow promises and outright neglect, of our veterans, we finally have a president who understands the importance of taking care of those who have sacrificed so much for American. God Bless our president and give him the courage to continue changing the status quo in Washington. This is "Change we can believe in". THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT!

    March 16, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I'm glad the President is looking out for the vets. His wife is playing her part as well. Carry on First Family.

    March 16, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Shirley in California

    What say you doubters now???

    March 16, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Don't forget to attend their ball just in case you miss it in the next election.

    March 16, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. John

    I want free or mostly free college for vets nationwide. Illinois has the Illinois Veterans Grant; 4 years in the military with an honorable discharge gets you 4 years free of college at any state college. I see no reason why this shouldn't be nationwide.

    As an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran (CAOC at PSAB), an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran (BIAP), someone who was stationed in Korea for a year, and a veteran on 10% disability from the VA, I would use inexpensive access to college education to get a degree in Education and become a teacher. I'd love to become a teacher, but I can't responsibly take on $60k of debt for it.

    March 16, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Brian Crooks


    First of all, learn how to write. I can't ever understand what you're trying to say because your grammar makes it nearly impossible to get your point. Secondly, are you accusing President Obama of living rent-free at taxpayer expense? Or are you accusing the veterans...see? Really confusing. Thirdly, are you saying that only people who have served in the military are allowed to help veterans? So any non-veteran president should just turn a blind eye to their needs?

    March 16, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. itbeme

    wow.....where are all the repukes from the other day whining about how Obama and the Dems didn't care about our troops.

    and to Griff............... on The Truth... March 16th, 2009 3:22 pm ET

    All of which, you were none. Mr Obama. Where did you serve in Defence of the USA? Living Rent-free, at the Tax payers expense?

    Obama has done way more for this country than that idiot bush ever thought about. bush may have been in the Guard, but he didn't 'serve' one day in his life.

    March 16, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA. It's a degrace our veterans are not treated in the manner they deserve and yet the yield to John McCain as a hero who has never supported our countries best.

    March 16, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. George Vetnar

    As Pres. Obama follows through on this promise, as his record of serving on the Veterans Affairs Committee as a U.S. Senator indicates he has done regarding veterans' issues, it can not help but be good news for U.S. veterans of all wars and those who care for them in the V.A. hospitals. Count me in that number, because I am part of one of many of the barely-staffed-enough nursing teams in local V.A. hospitals. It is better for our vets and better for us, if for no other reason than now there will be more money so there will be more nurses to help with the care of the veterans.

    March 16, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Colin, RI

    Angie in PA March 16th, 2009 3:23 pm ET

    "Thank god Mccain Lost he doesnt care about our Veterns!"

    I am very glad to see President Obama pledging to help our country's veterans. You are a bit mistaken, Angie... Veterans are the ONLY people McCain seemed to care about. He wanted to cut spending in health care, education, energy, but NOT veterans' affairs. My honest opinion is that he'd pour money into our VA system, but wouldn't want to spend the money to overhaul the VA, which it so desperately needs. That is the difference between the two candidates.

    March 16, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Veteran in Kansas


    Give me a show of hands of elected officials that have served their nation under arms. Three cheers for a President that gets it, rather than a war hero who said it costs to much money to take care of veterans, a President who to this day military serve records are in question and a VP who had no less than 6 draft deferments because he was to busy to be bothered. Do you really understand what the pro military stance of the so called Republicans means, it does not mean more men, more equipment, less seperation from family, it means that the military will receive a pay increase every year. Thats what its meant since Reagan, othe than that it has shown the largest military cutbacks since the end of World War II.

    Thank god for a President that does care for the military and is not giving it lip service.

    March 16, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. U.S. Common Sense

    First the Obama Administration considers requiring veterans returning from Iraq to pay their medical bills with private insurance to now asking for more aid? Can we say CYOA?

    Angie in Pa,

    "Thank god Mccain Lost he doesnt care about our Veterns!"

    Your ignorance is scary.

    March 16, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Terry - California

    Dear President Obama:

    Please spend whatever it takes to take care of the young men and women of the Armed Forces. I will gladly pay higher taxes, if all of the proceeds go to the Military Folks and their Families. Thank You!

    March 16, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Ex-Republican

    Thank you Mr. President for actually CARING for our vets and active duty military. Unlike the republicans who have made a career out of using and abusing them, you stand by them. Better pay and better benefits have been a hall mark of your career. Republicans have overwhelmingly voted against better benefits for our vets and better equipment for our fighting men.

    Thank you Mr. President!

    March 16, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Mari

    THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT! One of the first things that the Democrats did when they got control of Congress was to give the Military a much needed PAY RAISE!

    The far-right likes to "claim" that they are the ones that really support the Troops...... but........ the record shows otherwise!

    March 16, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Ex-Republican

    Colin, you need to go back and look at McCain's voting record. He has made a career out of saying one thing, and voting another. He has more often then not, voted AGAINST benefits for our veterans. I'm not attacking you, simply stating a fact. I understand he 'said' he cared about our vets. But his voting record doesn't prove it. He is of the opinion that if we give our vets and military what they deserve, then they won't stay in the military. So deprive them of proper pay and benefits to keep them on their knee's and in your service.

    March 16, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Maurice from Ontario

    I salute you, President Obama! Your steadfast efforts to bring justice, i.e. what is right, to our veterans is commendable. The soldiers are doing the job of all Americans. They merit the best we can offer upon their return to their home.

    March 16, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. abraxis

    I am curious as to why we are questioning the commitment that our country has to the veterans who fought for us. You can disagree about why we are fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan but questioning the integrity of those who are taking care of those who have fought for us and who have died and left family members behind is beyond ignorance.

    March 16, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. Lillie

    President Obama, you're the BEST!!

    March 16, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
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