Four years ago, President Bush threatened to veto a revision of the GI Bill that would expand veteran benefits. The bill, which was the most significant revision in 25 years, offered veterans who served for at least three years since 9/11 tuition at a public university, a yearly allowance for fees and books and a housing stipend.
Veterans ultimately got the benefits because the bill passed with a veto-proof margin, after which Bush changed his mind and signed it. President Obama, then a Senator, was among the Democrats whose votes for the bill, along with those of a few Republicans, gave it the margin needed to be safe from veto. In 2010, after Barack Obama became president, he backed and signed a further expansion of the GI Bill.
Soldiers who volunteer to fight now have access to educational opportunities that will help them live successful civilian lives. These bills acknowledge the enormous sacrifice soldiers and their families made fighting two wars over the past decade.
Unlike President Bush, who opposed the new benefits on the grounds that too many soldiers might take advantage of them, President Obama is committed to helping all those who serve their country. As of March 2012, more than 710,000 veterans and their family members have benefited from the educational opportunities in the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In addition to colleges and universities, veterans now also have the option of using their VA benefits for vocational programs to receive job training.
The Obama administration instituted programs to help veterans find jobs, buy houses, start businesses and get health care. In 2011 President Obama signed into law the Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which offer businesses that hire veterans tax credits of up to $5,600 per veteran and up to $9,600 per wounded veteran. In 2011 the Small Business Association provided more than 190,000 veterans with small business counseling to help them launch their own initiatives.
The Home Loan Guarantee program enabled the VA to secure more than 340,000 home loans. It also helped more than 66,000 veterans avoid foreclosure since 2010. Since 2009 the VA has hired 3,500 additional mental health professionals to help soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
President Bush and his administration started the wars, but they weren’t willing to make the same commitment to the soldiers who had to fight them. President Obama has ended one war and is in the process of ending the second. He is invested in service members and their families because he understands that wars have a human cost and that returning veterans deserve support from the country they served.
Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm, in Union Matters