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Obama Vows to Improve US Veterans' Access to Education, Benefits

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama (L) is seen after placing a Veterans Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, November 11, 2012.

President Barack Obama (L) is seen after placing a Veterans Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, November 11, 2012.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to serve American military veterans by improving their access to education and medical benefits.

In a speech Sunday marking the annual Veterans Day holiday, Mr. Obama said his administration is helping veterans to obtain a college education and "pursue their dreams." Speaking at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, he said authorities also have introduced benefits for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a herbicide sprayed by U.S. forces to clear vegetation used as a cover by guerrilla forces.


​Mr. Obama also highlighted his fulfillment of a promise to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq, noting that Sunday is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops "fighting and dying" in that country. He said 33,000 U.S. troops also have returned from Afghanistan as a transition begins to Afghan government control of the country following a decade of war.

Mr. Obama said more than one million U.S. service members will transition to civilian life in the next few years. He said the United States has a sacred obligation to take care of them.

Before the speech, the U.S. president placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Communities across America traditionally hold Veterans Day observances and ceremonies. Federal offices are closed Monday in recognition of the holiday.

The Veterans Day holiday began as a U.S. observance of Armistice Day in 1919. The United States and its allies declared an armistice with Germany to end the First World War one year earlier, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Britain also marked the anniversary with a Remembrance Day ceremony at London's Cenotaph war memorial, where Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family honored the war dead of the British Commonwealth.

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande commemorated France's war dead by laying a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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