While speaking today in Charleston, WV Barack Obama addressed veterans’ issues and specifically criticized John McCain for not supporting the 21st Century GI Bill. “We must never forget that honoring this service and upholding these ideals requires more than saluting our veterans as they march by on Veterans Day or Memorial Day,” Obama said.
He continued, “It requires marching with them for the care and benefits they have earned. It requires standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our veterans and their families after the guns fall silent and the cameras are turned off. At a time when we’re facing the largest homecoming since the Second World War, the true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they’ve served us.”
Obama also talked about the 21st Century GI Bill that Senate Republicans and President Bush oppose, “There is no reason we shouldn’t pass the 21st Century GI Bill that is being debated in Congress right now. It was introduced by my friend Senator Jim Webb, a Marine who served as Navy Secretary under President Ronald Reagan. His plan has widespread support from Republicans and Democrats. It would provide every returning veteran with a real chance to afford a college education, and it would not harm retention.”
Obama called out McCain for not supporting the bill, “I have great respect for John McCain’s service to this country and I know he loves it dearly and honors those who serve. But he is one of the few Senators of either party who oppose this bill because he thinks it’s too generous. I couldn’t disagree more. At a time when the skyrocketing cost of tuition is pricing thousands of Americans out of a college education, we should be doing everything we can to give the men and women who have risked their lives for this country the chance to pursue the American Dream.”
Obama is right. I wish the Republicans who oppose this bill would look a vet in the eyes who has lost a limb, or been through hell in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tell him or her that they don’t deserve extra money for school or job training.
How can Republicans who claim they love the troops, treat them this poorly? How can the bulk of soldiers continue to vote Republican, when all the GOP does is treat them like a disposable asset in their trumped up holy war?
Out of the many things that need to be changed in our politics, I find the treatment of our vets to be one of the most shameful. They didn’t ask to go to the Middle East, but they have risked their lives for a war of choice. The least we can do is provide them with the medical care and educational opportunities that they deserve when they come home.
Full Text of Obama’s speech: