President Obama will use his Saturday speech to Disabled American Veterans to talk about fulfilling the government’s promise to veterans, now and in the future.
Scheduled to speak in Orlando, Fla., before about 4,000 people, Obama is expected to talk about helping the Post-9/11 generation of veterans through health care, education, training, employment and benefits programs.
The DAV has 1.2 million members, making it the third-largest veterans’ organization in the U.S.
The speech on the opening day of a three-day conference comes as the Afghanistan war is winding down and when the military is getting smaller, events that will put even more pressure on the Veterans Affairs Department and the rest of the federal government to provide help in the transition to civilian life.
A senior administration official said Obama will focus on five areas: ensuring adequate budgets and resources for veterans programs, delivering reliable health care, continuing to reduce the backlog of benefits claims, helping veterans realize their dreams through jobs and other post-service opportunities and “standing up for veterans’ rights and dignity.”
That last item includes employment and reemployment rights, financial protections and things like dignified treatment for disabled veterans.
Obama will be able to report some progress, the senior administration official said.
He’ll announce new mental health research aimed at post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and suicide among veterans and service members.
He’ll also announce a new effort to help veterans succeed in colleges and vocational schools.
He’ll reaffirm support for the Disabilities Treaty, which would create an international agreement similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act. The treaty was rejected by the Senate last year but another vote on ratification could be scheduled later this year.
Obama also will be able to report “tangible progress” in reducing the claims backlog. While there are 780,000 pending benefits claims before the VA, there were more than 900,000 pending claims at the start of the year.
Tackling the claims backlog is one of the top issues being discussed at the DAV convention.