Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Michelle Obama thanks Veterans Affairs employees

Michelle Obama thanks Veterans Affairs employees

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE (AP) – 9 hours ago

WASHINGTON — As her husband debates whether to send more U.S. troops into Afghanistan, first lady Michelle Obama told Department of Veterans Affairs employees Tuesday they are doing vital work.

"So often federal employees feel underappreciated," she said. "You often get a lot of the blame but sometimes none of the thanks. My simple job is to say 'thank you' because the job that you do is a big one."

Millions of veterans and their families rely on the department for health care, or help in pursuing an education or buying a home.

"Your work is vital. It really is," said Mrs. Obama, who has become an advocate for military families. She talked about some of the things men and women in uniform give up to serve their country, and said their families and communities sacrifice, too.

Mrs. Obama said President Barack Obama is mindful of the fact that his efforts are only as strong as the people on his team.

"So it's just important for you to know that the president and I are proud of you, just as proud as we are of the men and women who serve this country, the people that you serve," she said. "And we just urge you to keep it up."

Obama is reviewing the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. A decision on a new strategy, including the question of whether to send more U.S. troops into battle, is expected in the coming weeks
First Lady: Veterans Deserve Care They Were Promised, Benefits They Earned

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

First Lady Michelle Obama dropped by the Department of Veterans Affairs today to thank the employees for their service and highlight the work her husband's administration has done for the nation's veterans.

"Day in and day out the folks here at the VA are working to uphold America's sacred trust with those who defend our freedom, because it's a commitment that doesn't end when our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, or Coast Guards men and women take off the uniform," the first lady said.

The visit was part of the First Lady's agency tour, a series of meet and greets at the federal departments in Washington.

The purpose is to thank staff and highlight the work that they are doing but the visits have also served as a useful platform for Mrs. Obama to tout the work her husband's administration is doing on a range of policy issues.

Today she listed steps taken by the Obama Administration to on behalf of the nation's veterans including expanding VA health coverage to more veterans, increasing in VA funding, expanding access to health care in rural areas and putting greater focus on post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

Calling the work of the VA "vital," Mrs. Obama said that the nation's veterans "deserve our unwavering support."

"It seems so simple," she said to applause. "They deserve the care that they were promised, and they deserve the benefits that they earned. "

Mrs. Obama noted that on Thursday the president will sign the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act at the White House.

"This legislation guarantees a timely and predictable flow of funding for VA medical care because that's what's required to guarantee better care to the men and women who serve this country," she said.

This is the First Lady's 12th visit to a federal agency. She dropped by the Department of Health and Human Services last week to promote healthy eating and exercise for children and families.

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