Obama Honors Veterans And Promises Continued Support

President Obama's reached out to veterans Monday in a number of ways to mark the Veteran's Day holiday.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

With somber ceremonies and festive parades, Americans pay tribute today to veterans. At Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama saluted one of the oldest living veterans of World War II. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the president also promised continued support for a new generation of veterans.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: The Veterans Day service at Arlington managed to be both somber and celebratory. Somber when President Obama laid the traditional wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and festive when he celebrated one of the oldest survivors of what's been called America's greatest generation. Richard Overton served at Pearl Harbor, on Okinawa and Iwo Jima, where he says escaped only by the grace of God. After World War II ended, Overton returned home to Texas. And at age 107, Obama says Overton is still living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, Richard still lives in the house that he built all those years ago, rakes his own lawn. And every Sunday, he hops in his 1971 Ford truck and drives one of the nice ladies in his neighborhood to church.

HORSLEY: Obama says, at first, Overton, who is African-American, didn't get the respect back home that his service on the battlefield deserved. After every war, the president said, there's a risk that Americans will lose sight of the sacrifices veterans made. He promised that won't happen with those who served in the recently ended war in Iraq or Afghanistan, where America's combat role is due to end next year.

OBAMA: Even though this time of war is coming to a close, our time of service to our newest veterans has only just begun.

HORSLEY: Obama says the government will continue to invest in caring for veterans, including educational benefits through the GI Bill and improved mental health care. The president also nodded to the first lady's effort to persuade more companies to hire veterans. Those leaving uniform in the last decade suffer an unemployment rate of 10 percent, well above the national average.

OBAMA: We're going to keep fighting to give every veterans who has fought for America the chance to pursue the American Dream, a fair shot at the jobs and opportunity you need to help us rebuild and grow here at home.

HORSLEY: Advocates complain disabled veterans still have to wait too long for the government to process their claims, though the VA's backlog is slowly shrinking. Obama says, while the U.S. already has the best military in the world, it needs to devote the same energy and passion to having the best cared-for veterans. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.