Monday, April 18, 2011

Gill's Notes::President Obama's speech to Disabled veterans

At the same time, every American who has ever worn the uniform must also know this: Your country is going to take care of you when you come home. (Applause.) Our nation’s commitment to our veterans, to you and your families, is a sacred trust. And to me and my administration, upholding that trust is a moral obligation. It’s not just politics.

That’s why I’ve charged Secretary Shinseki with building a 21st century VA. (Applause.) And that includes one of the largest percentage increases to the VA budget in the past 30 years. (Applause.) We are going to cut this deficit that we’ve got, and I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary domestic spending. But what I have not frozen is the spending we need to keep our military strong, our country safe and our veterans secure. So we’re going to keep on making historic commitments to our veterans. (Applause.) 

For about 200,000 Vietnam vets who may have been exposed to Agent Orange and who now suffer from three chronic diseases, we’re making it easier for you to get the health care and benefits you need. (Applause.)

For our Gulf War veterans, we’ve declared that nine infectious diseases are now presumed to be related to your service in Desert Storm. (Applause.)

For our disabled veterans, we’ve eliminated co-pays for those of you who are catastrophically disabled. (Applause.) We’ve kept our promise on concurrent receipt by proposing legislation that would allow severely disabled retirees to receive your military retired pay and your VA disability benefits. It’s the right thing to do. (Applause.)

We’ve dramatically increased funding for veterans health care across the board, and that includes improving care for rural veterans and women veterans. (Applause.) For those half-million vets who had lost their eligibility -- our Priority 8 veterans -- we’re restoring your access to VA health care. (Applause.) 

And since the rumors continue to fly, even though they are wrong, let me say it as clearly as I can: The historic health care reform legislation that I signed into law does not -- I repeat, does not -- change your veterans benefits. (Applause.) The VA health care benefits that you know and trust are safe, and that includes prosthetics for our disabled veterans. (Applause.)

Thanks to advanced appropriations, the delays for funding for veterans medical care are over. And just as those delays were unacceptable, so too are long delays in the claims process. (Applause.) So Secretary Shinseki is working overtime to create a single lifetime electronic record that our troops and veterans can keep for life. (Applause.) 

And today -- today I can announce that for the first time ever, veterans will be able to go to the VA website, click a simple “blue button,” and download or print your personal health records so you have them when you need them and can share them with your doctors outside of the VA. That’s happening this fall. (Applause.)

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