CORONADO, Calif. — President Barack Obama says veterans of conflicts overseas should not struggle to find work once they return home, and he's urging the House to follow the Senate's lead and do something to help them.
"We ask these men and women to leave their families and their jobs and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home," the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address. He recorded the message Friday, Veteran's Day, on board the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier anchored off the coast of San Diego, where Obama stopped en route to an Asia-Pacific economic summit that he was hosting beginning Saturday in Hawaii.
"Standing up for our veterans isn't a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility — it's an American responsibility. It's one that all of us have an obligation to meet," Obama said. "And the House should pass this bill as soon as possible so I can sign it into law."
Obama's beginning a nine-day trip through Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia aimed at strengthening ties and boosting economic opportunity back at home.
Before he left Washington, the Senate acted in unusual bipartisan accord to pass a small portion of the president's jobs bill, voting overwhelmingly to approve legislation to award tax credits of up to $9,600 to companies that hire disabled veterans who have been job-hunting for at least half a year, and strengthen employment counseling and training programs for vets and troops about to leave the military.
The House is expected to approve the bill next week, which would send it to Obama. The president's signature would make the veterans tax credits the first fragment of his $447 billion jobs package to be enacted — although it will accomplish little to boost the sagging economy, or solve the deficit problems that a congressional supercommittee is struggling with. Those problems are sure to await Obama when he returns to Washington on Nov. 20, days ahead of a deadline for a proposal from the supercommittee.
Republicans also devoted their weekly media address to veterans, with Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, an Army reservist, calling for leadership from Obama to do more for veterans and support House-passed legislation to help them.
"We owe it to our veterans to ensure they come home to a strong economy, so they can transition into civilian life and support their family with a good paying job," Heck said.
"With unemployment still much too high, we just can't wait to take bipartisan action that will help put Americans back to work," he said.