When the men and women serving in our nation's military deploy to a war zone, there is not much they can take with them except a sense of duty, a responsibility to give back before you're asked, that speaks to the heart of our all-volunteer force and military families. When President Obama addressed the VFW earlier this week, he reaffirmed that duty. Our Commander-in-Chief reminded us that America's sacred trust with those who serve starts when they take their oath and never ends.
America's veterans have endured long separations from family, followed by second, third and fourth deployments. More than 6,500 service members have made the ultimate sacrifice in the past decade of wars and more than 49,000 came home wounded. President Obama knows we owe veterans and their families more than a debt of gratitude. We owe them the care we promised and the benefits they've earned.
That's why he's committed to making sure our veterans can transition to civilian life and get the good jobs, quality health care and education they need to take care of themselves and their families.
To help veterans find jobs when they get home, President Obama signed into law two tax credits that encourage businesses to hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors.
A record number of veterans are entering the VA health system, so President Obama has significantly boosted the Veterans Affairs budget to ensure that veterans receive timely access to the highest-quality benefits and services. And though he knew it would be difficult, he's making sure the VA eliminates the backlog by 2015.
To keep up with that growing demand, the VA is hiring claims processors to get veterans their benefits faster and is deploying a new IT system to improve claim processing times. President Obama believes we must keep improving health care for all veterans, whether they served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or World War II.
To expand educational opportunities for veterans, President Obama implemented and improved the Post-9/11 GI Bill, so those who serve can get an undergraduate education at no cost. It's the most comprehensive educational benefit for veterans since World War II, and is helping more than 3,900 Nevada veterans go to college.
As President Obama has rightly said, "It's not enough to honor with words. Words are cheap. We must do it with deeds."
The VA provides a lot more than quality health care. To better serve the more than 40 percent of veterans in the VA health care system who live in rural America, the VA is expanding transportation and telehealth services.
President Obama has invested heavily in mental health programs and expanded the ranks of VA mental health professionals to support our Veterans. The VA is making sure homeless veterans and their families can get housing, health care, jobs, benefits and helping them achieve residential stability.
He brought the war in Iraq to a responsible end. He refocused our national security policies on the most serious threats so we could more effectively fight al-Qaeda and its affiliates around the world.
The President and our military and intelligence community have done more than just bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Under the President's leadership, more al Qaeda terrorists have been killed or captured than at any other point since 9/11, and the terrorist group is weaker than at any point since those unforgettable attacks. And the President has a plan to end the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and bring our troops home to their families at a steady pace.
And from day one, President Obama has kept his promises. He banned torture, restored our reputation abroad, and ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to ensure our country continues to live up to the values we fight for and represent.
President Obama's commitment to caring for those who step up to serve is not limited to campaign season. He's had our backs each day for the last three and half years, which is why I'm proud to join the tens of thousands of veterans and military families who support our Commander-in-Chief.
I've had the honor of serving alongside the most courageous and selfless fighting force in the world. Every day I'm inspired by memories of the service and sacrifice I witnessed in my fellow soldiers in Iraq. President Obama is honoring their bravery in both words and deeds. We know he always will.