Bloomberg News

Obama Says Getting Jobs for Vets Is Bipartisan Responsibility

November 17, 2011

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said helping returning veterans find work should be cause for bipartisan cooperation, as he thanked U.S. troops and urged Congress to enact employer tax credits to encourage hiring “as soon as possible.”

“We ask these men and women to leave their families and their jobs and risk their lives to fight for our country,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, taped on Veterans Day aboard the aircraft carrier that took Osama bin Laden’s body to a burial at sea six months ago. “The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home.”

Obama visited the USS Carl Vinson off the Pacific Coast in San Diego yesterday to attend the 2011 Carrier Classic, the first college basketball contest aboard an aircraft carrier. The University of North Carolina played Michigan State University, reprising the 2009 NCAA tournament final won by North Carolina.

The president thanked the U.S. Senate for passing legislation that will give businesses tax breaks for each unemployed veteran and each with a disability that they hire. The legislation is part of Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan that has been blocked by congressional Republicans.

“Standing up for our veterans isn’t a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility,” he said. “It’s an American responsibility,” and the Republican-controlled House should approve the legislation “as soon as possible so I can sign it into law.”

Iraq and Afghanistan

Obama said that as the war in Iraq draws to a close by the end of the year and the war in Afghanistan winds down more veterans will be returning home in search of work.

It’s “not right” that more than 850,000 veterans are jobless, he said. He highlighted the federal government’s efforts to hire 120,000 veterans and his administration’s challenge to private companies to train or hire 100,000 post- Sept. 11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. He said companies have taken on the challenge and are committed to training or hiring 125,000 more veterans during the next two years. Companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Home Depot Inc. are part of the effort.

Obama arrives in Honolulu today to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. He will go on to make stops in Australia and Indonesia as part of a nine-day trip.

Representative Joe Heck of Nevada, a colonel in the Army Reserve for more than 20 years, commended the Democrat-led U.S. Senate for passing the legislation that will help veterans find work. Heck gave the Republican radio and Internet address marking Veterans Day.

Death of Marine

Heck described the 2008 death of a 20-year-old Marine at the combat support hospital in western Iraq where he worked, saying it showed “the caliber of the men and women we call ‘veterans.’”

He said that, after “the nursing staff carefully washed away the desert sand and dirt of battle,” two medics draped the marine in the American flag and “then took up a position of parade rest at the foot of the bed and stood there. And stood there, and stood there.” Four hours later they were still in position, Heck said.

“Looking out for one another is their highest priority on the battlefield,” he said. “We can all learn a lot from that.”

Heck’s state Nevada had a 13.4 percent unemployment rate in September, the highest in the country. He said he is happy that the Senate passed legislation to help employ and train unemployed veterans and “break down bureaucratic barriers preventing them from finding work.”

He urged the Senate to pass a jobs bills approved by the House that he said would prove that “together we can rise above politics to make certain our nation remains great and worthy of our veterans’ sacrifices.”

--With assistance from Steven Sloan in Washington and Margaret Talev in San Diego. Editors: Jim Rubin, Peter Blumberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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