Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend President Obama's first Twitter Town Hall at the White House. And yes, I got to shake the President's hand. More on that later....
Because I was there representing Blue Star Families, I paid close attention to the tweets regarding the military, defense spending, and veterans.
President Obama indicated that he wanted to cut defense spending gradually, making the right cuts. He said:
We can’t simply lop off 25 percent off the defense budget overnight. We have to think about all the obligations we have to our current troops who are in the field and making sure they're properly equipped and safe.
In some cases we've got outdated equipment; that needs to be replaced. And so I'm committed to reducing the defense budget. As commander in chief, one of the things that we have to do is make sure that we do it in a thoughtful way that's guided by our security and our strategic needs. And I think we can accomplish that....
Throughout the tweets regarding defense spending, the President made it clear that veterans must remain a priority, “We’ve got to make sure that we are meeting our commitments for those veterans who are coming home.” He pointed out that we haven't fully realized the costs of all of our veterans coming home and that that the cost of caring for veterans of the recent wars won't peak for another 30 years.
One tweet asked, “Can you give companies a tax break if they hire an honorable discharged veteran?” President Obama said that the higher unemployment rate for our veterans - highly trained soldiers - makes no sense.
This is something that I’ve been talking a lot about internally. We’ve got all these young people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan; have made incredible sacrifices; have taken on incredible responsibilities. You see some 23-year-old who's leading a platoon in hugely dangerous circumstances, making decisions, operating complex technologies. These are folks who can perform. But, unfortunately, what we’re seeing is that a lot of these young veterans have a higher unemployment rate than people who didn’t serve. And that makes no sense.
So what we’d like to do is potentially combine a tax credit for a company that hires veterans with a campaign to have private companies step up and do the right thing and hire more veterans. And one of the things that we’ve done is internally in the federal government we have made a huge emphasis on ramping up our outreach to veterans and the hiring of veterans, and this has been a top priority of mine. The notion that these guys who are sacrificing for our freedom and our security end up coming home and not being able to find a job I think is unacceptable.
I was fortunate enough to be sitting right on the end of an aisle with my friend, Monique, from the Military Officers Association of America. We made a pact to try and get photos of one another shaking the Presiden't hand as he came down the aisle.
Well, we both got to shake his hand, but all we got was one extremely blurry iPhone photo of part of Monique's head. So you'll just have to take my word for it!
I know that most of you know this, but I'd like to remind everyone that Blue Star Families is a nonpartisan nonprofit. We don't support or endorse candidates or a political party, not just because of IRS rules, but because the issues military families face are not partisan. While I don't make any judgments or pronouncements on White House policy in this blog post, I do from time to time on this blog. Everything I say on LawyerMama.com reflects my personal views and has absolutely nothing to do with the views of BSF.