President Obama’s observance of Veterans Day took on a special meaning Friday, mere weeks before troops serving in Iraq begin to arrive home.
He delivered remarks at Arlington National Cemetery before flying to San Diego for a NCAA basketball game on an aircraft carrier. The timing was well-suited for the president whose proposal to help unemployed veterans passed the Senate Thursday.
Speaking of a commitment he made to active duty men and women, the president said: “I made them a promise. I said that when your tour ends, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil, you will be home in an American that is forever here for you, just as you’ve been there for us.”
And as Veterans Affairs Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki noted, Obama’s contribution to his department are not small: He authorized the largest single increase to the V.A. budget in 30 years in 2007 and increased that budget by 20 percent over the past two fiscal years.
Unfortunately, boosting services to veterans has not ended the difficulties and emotional trauma servicemen and women face when returning from war. One of every five suicides in the United States is committed by a veteran. And, only hours before Obama spoke in Arlington Cemetery, a 35-year-old military veteran shot himself in the head at an “Occupy” camp in Burlintgon, Vermont.