Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bush Fails to Mention America's 1.6 Million New Veterans in SOTU

Huffington Post
Paul Rieckhoff
Bush Fails to Mention America's 1.6 Million New Veterans in SOTU

Tonight President Bush once again failed to demonstrate a real commitment to the 1.6 million new American veterans who have been created under his watch. For the second year in a row, the President in his State of the Union address chose to mention the troops only as a prop for his failing policies and ignored the nation's new veterans entirely.

Over the past four years, this country has watched its men and women in uniform answer the call to duty over and over again, yet somehow today these new veterans are still faced with a drastically under-funded Veterans' Administration and an outdated GI Bill. It's time to reward our troops' sacrifices with more than just bureaucratic hassles and token gestures.

Mr. President, this nation's new veterans and this new Congress will together rewrite the book on our approach to veterans' services, and we'll do it with or without your help. Tonight you demonstrated your willingness to send more troops into harms way. A demonstration of your commitment to preserving this nation's promise to its veterans is long overdue.

In the coming weeks, the nation's first and largest Iraq and Afghanistan veterans group, IAVA, will release a legislative agenda that, if adopted, will go a long way towards addressing the many unacceptable problems facing our troops as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Supporting our troops and veterans is not only our national obligation, it is also critical to maintaining a strong military and ensuring our national security. Shortages of armor, troops and equipment have hampered progress in theatre. Poor treatment of veterans and an inadequate G.I. Bill make recruitment more difficult. The use of National Guardsmen and Reservists leaves fewer troops at home for domestic emergencies. It is time that these force-readiness issues are treated with the urgency they deserve. And it is time that this nation, and our elected officials, renew the commitment to our troops and veterans.