If you're planning on sending a care package to our troops in Iraq, you'd better do it soon - mail will stop being shipped there after November 17,2011. The reason is simple: our soldiers in Iraq are on their way home. After nearly nine years of selfless sacrifice and service by our brave military men and women, America’s war in Iraq is coming to an end.
As many of our servicemembers return to their homes for the holidays, we must be mindful of the fact that their unwavering commitment to duty deserves from us an equally unwavering commitment to them and to their families. President Obama is committed to meeting our sacred trust to honor our Veterans. That's why the VA is now dedicating more resources than ever before to providing mental health services for Veterans - hiring more mental health providers and cutting down on the amount of time and paperwork it takes to file for treatment related to PTSD. The VA is in the midst of an ambitious five-year plan to eradicate homelessness among Veterans. Additionally, the VA is working to improve health care for women Veterans and to ensure that they have better access to the services they need. As our Veterans return, they will see that America is ready to welcome them back by honoring their service and providing them with the benefits and opportunities they have earned.
And when our troops come home, they will find that they are not only welcomed - they are needed, especially as America works to out-build, out-educate, and out-innovate the rest of the world. That’s why President Obama created the Veterans Employment Initiative– focusing on ensuring service members are “career ready” and challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 Veterans or military family members by 2013. Last month, our Administration announced that the American Logistics Association, comprised of 270 companies, had committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and their spouses. And just last week, we announced an additional commitment by the International Franchising Association and 1,200 associate companies to hire 100,000 veterans, including 5,000 wounded warriors. Through the American Jobs Act, President Obama proposed tax credits to help businesses meet this goal. The Administration also launched a Veterans Job Bank, which will put our Veterans in contact with companies that appreciate their skills. A new "Veterans Gold Card" program will allow Vets to receive job search assistance courtesy of the Department of Labor. President Obama has also signed into law two improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill so that our newest Veterans will have access to a college education.
The President promised to end the war in Iraq. This holiday season, that promise has been kept. And it has been kept in a way that has made Iraq stronger and secured America’s interests. As our Veterans return home, we need to serve them as well as they’ve served us. We will provide them and their families with the benefits and opportunities they have earned, and we will join arms with them as we work to rebuild our economy and strengthen our future.
Darienne Page is the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Engagement.