President Obama visited Atlanta Monday to discuss his administration’s efforts to help the nation’s veterans. He told the annual meeting of the Disabled American Veterans a lot had been accomplished, but there was still much to be done.
“America's commitment to our veterans is more than just lines in a budget, and it can't be about politics. It's not even really about policy,” Obama told the audience of veterans, their caregivers, and their families. “Our commitment to our veterans is a sacred covenant, and I don't use those words lightly.”
Obama focused on initiatives to make it easier for veterans enroll in the Veteran’s Affairs healthcare system and to increase VA clinic hours, to expand healthcare services for female veterans, and to enroll 500,000 veterans in a database aimed at providing more tailored healthcare.
The president also highlighted achievements like cutting veteran homelessness almost in half--by 47 percent--since 2010. He said the work had impacted tens of thousands of U.S. veterans.
Obama had promised to end veteran homelessness by 2015, but didn’t make any reference to the missed goal. However, he did acknowledge more veterans need help.
“We will not stop until every veteran who fought for America has a home in America. This is something we have to get done,” he said to applause.
Obama’s time in office has been rocky when it comes to veterans issues. His administration faced issues like long wait times for veterans seeking medical care that led to the resignation of Obama’s first VA secretary, Eric Shinseki.
The president also stressed the work still to be done: making sure veterans have timely access to care, cutting down on the backlog of disability compensation claims, and helping veterans find employment when they return home.
But he said politicians alone couldn’t do the work.
It’s everybody's job,” Obama said. “Government has to deliver the care and benefits and support that [veterans] have earned. Veterans service organizations have to hold us accountable and be our partners, and citizens have to step up too.”