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. MEL

    Thank you Mr. President for giving us our country back!!!!!!! for bringing our honor back. We are walking with you. Thank you to our heroes.

    March 16, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. karen-Phoenix

    President Obama is the BEST president for the millitary and vets since Eisenhower!!!

    March 16, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. MEL

    To Griff on the thru, how about dear Bush, about serving our country and for eight years, where were you all, just nooding your heads and saying yes to everything. There was no rent free for our President, when he serve for the people as a community organizer, that was an honor. So Griff try to tell your true to someone else.

    March 16, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. D. D.

    Our Vets and teachers should be the best paid and live well in our country.
    Why are athletics paid for having a DNA that allows them to do special thing?. Vets and teachers worked to earn their talents and gifts of giving.
    As we regroup our economy we need to jingle these two areas wit more income. Maybe the CEO of AIG should be repostioned to head one of these government posts. Then the bonus will have had been earned in most cases.

    March 16, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Annie

    It's about time our veterans are treated with the respect they deserve. Goodness, this President has a mess to clean up. I guess we're lucky he can actually walk and chew gum at the same time.

    March 16, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. john brewer

    its about time this country start helping the veterans when i returned from viet nam they never offered this so many returnes during viet nam era thank president oboma for caring

    March 16, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. arithmetic is liberal

    Iraq / Afghanistan Vererans need a comprehensive GI Bill.

    A history lesson:

    After WWII, veterans came home from that war and were given a GI Bill which sent them to college and gave them money to purchase their first home. The went on to create the most prosperous generation that has existed in this country.

    After Vietnam, veterans came home shell shocked to be spat on by the public and government they served, and went on to form the most prolific vagrant contingent this country has ever seen.

    After Iraq & Afghanistan, are we going to condemn our vets to a life on the street, or are we going to give them a fighting chance to win at home, after their service abroad?

    March 16, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. boered1

    As a retired vetern who has seen more than his fair share of being ignored by the counytry that I spent 21 years defending, who has listened to the politicians (including mccain) say it is too expensive to support our troops while they serve and after they serve, it is nice to see one who actually acts to make things better. the last one to do that was Reagan who gave us a raise so that only the bottom three ranks had to depend on welfare to get by. I went to the VA for some medical work, but because I have a job I was not covered, so much for my coverage! I have over $100 a month taken out of my retirement pay every month because I am 20% disabled by my time in the military and I get paid a disability payment. Since somehoe a diaability payment and a retirement check is considered double dipping everything I get for disability gets removed from my retired pay such a great deal let me tell you and yet everyday i live with the pains in my feet and knees, not complaining just stating a fact. Now maybe when the government decides to actually take care of us veterans as they promised I might feel better about it until then all I can say is at least President Obama is trying!

    March 16, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Jacqueline Ramsdell

    Thank you Mr. President, I have a son in the Marine Corp with a wife and 2 children, your caring for them and your wifes concern trigger in me that I voted for the right man !!!! Semper Fi !!!!

    March 16, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. arithmetic is liberal

    Colin, RI March 16th, 2009 3:49 pm ET

    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, Angieā€¦ Veterans are the ONLY people McCain seemed to care about.

    Hey Colin,

    McCain certainly made those promises during his campaign, but during his time in the Senate he voted against every major bill designated to fund the troops, and even voted against a few other bills that had funds set aside in them for veterans. He voted against it because it was an 'earmark'.

    March 16, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. jaye

    Our veterans and military families have been ignored way too long.
    The republican administrtion sent our troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and then treated them like dirt when they returned home....horrible medical care, low pay, and now no jobs.
    It's a crime of the worst!!!

    March 16, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Colin, RI


    I will gladly take your word for it, as I'm not about to waste my time looking up his voting record. I already know the old man is confused and cared only about pandering to the right. Considering that seemingly a majority of the attendees of his "town hall" rallies were vets, I figured that'd be the ONE thing he didn't flip-flop on. Well... that and his hatred of earmarks (even the good ones, not just the pork).

    March 16, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. jaye

    Thank you President Obama!
    Wonder how the republicans will spin this.....

    March 16, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Martha Hussein Baker for Barack

    Our brave men and women in uniform have been shorted for far too long. Thank you President Obama. And many thanks to our First Lady Michelle Obama for reaching out to military families. Its means the world to us!

    March 16, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |

    Brian Crooks,

    Bill O'Reilly DID NOT say that there were no homeless veterans. He said that the numbers being put out was inflated because a large majority of those suffered from mental illness and not from a lack of work. Get your facts straight before you post.

    March 16, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. Your non-Veteran opinions means nothing

    As an actual Veteran and someone who despises this empty suit, I wish to opine on someone who once said he "considered joining the military, but the Vietnam action had ended" LOOK IT UP, it's TRUE.

    So basically Barry, if there were more bad guys to kill, you would have joined, missed that tidbit in your two books.

    HOWEVER, if he does more than just say this for political gain and actually backs it up with NEEDED and NECESSARY changes, I will come back and post an apology and a heartfelt thank you, sorry if I am cynical, we VETERANS have heard the same song and dance before, ACTIONS speak louder than words.

    Help the Veterans and TAKE AWAY dough to the illegals, guess what Barry, I WOULD EVEN VOTE FOR YOU, but you need the illegals on your side, you call them future voters in your party.

    Take away their dough and give it to the Veterans and the Elderly that have actually EARNED OUR HELP AND RESPECT.

    March 16, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. malclave

    So, will Obama require veterans to pay for their VA care, as Shinseki suggested might happen, or not?

    March 16, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Anita

    We are more interested in finding out if President Obama is going to stop his plan to make Veterans use their own health care to pay for their injuries and recovery.

    It is an insult to Veteran everywhere and if President Obama insists on going through with this outrageous plan he is going to have problems getting any Veterans to support him in 2012.

    March 16, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. ceepee

    To Those Asking Griff for Clarification–

    Give it up; he's completely illiterate. His postings never make sense.

    March 16, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. Brian Crooks

    SGTBIGO: So because they came back from war with PTSD and are all mentally screwed up, it means they aren't really homeless veterans? John Edwards provided the figures from the VA, not some crazy left-wing think tank. Get YOUR facts straight.

    March 16, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. John

    "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?"

    Where di Cheney serve? Limbaugh? Gingrich?

    The list of Republican chickenhawks is long indeed. You don't have to be former military (and I am) to care about the military.

    March 16, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Ray Fisher

    I'd simply like Shinseki to make the VA adhere to HIPAA requirements of data security and quality of care benchmarks. The VA should either get out of the health care business in exchange for Medicare cards or do it right by adhering to standards, guidelines and industry norms. Complete transparency to expose the plight of the VA inmates, those too injured or sick to have a choice other than to rot under the guise of Veterans care. Every hospital & clinic are different, some good, some bad and some make make veterans want to return to combat!!! Invoking standards and inspections would aid in solving our subhuman veterans care!!!

    March 16, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. Angie in PA


    Mccain never did anything for our Veterns, He Opposed Every bill Sponsered For them. And as far as Voting no to Any Veterans bill Because it was a So called EARMARK,I guess Mccain running off to Washington to Vote for a Bailout Bill loaded wit EAR MARKS For Wall St was more Important then our Troops PATHETIC YOU AND HE BOTH!

    March 16, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Abagail Downing, Vet

    We don't need your kind of "help", Obama. All you are after is to take over our lives like we are a bunch of blithering idiots who can't look after ourselves, much like the people who voted for you.

    March 16, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Independent_me

    Oh, Yeah!
    Finally a President who backs up rhetoric with action!

    March 16, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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