RENO, NV - President Obama swept in to Reno Monday for an appearance before the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
It was the president's first major speech since the shooting in Colorado and the president began by noting some its victims who were active duty or military veterans including Jonathan Blunk, a 2004 graduate of Hug High.
"These young patriots were willing to serve in far away lands,yet they were taken from us here at home," he told the crowd of 3,000. "Yesterday I conveyed to their families a message on behalf of all Americans. We honor your loved ones. We salute their service."
The last time the president spoke to the VFW was in 2009. His focus then was on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The President reminded them that he'd promised to end the war in Iraq and set a timeline for getting out of Afghanistan. Both, he said, he'd done just as he'd promised to track down our terrorist enemies.
"We worked with our allies and our partners to take out more top Al Qaeda leaders than any time since 9-11 and thanks to the courage and skill of our forces, Osama Bin Laden will never threaten America again and Al Qaeda is on the road to defeat."
Without mentioning him by name he drew a contrast with Mitt Romney, who has questioned the decision of setting a deadline for getting out of Afghanistan.
"After 10 years of war and given the progress we've made, I thought it was important to the American people and our men and women in uniform know our plan to end this war responsibly."
But much of the president's address focused on supporting the troops after they return with medical care and jobs.
He had just signed, he said, a bill that would make it easier for veterans to use their military resumes to gain the certifications they would need in the civilian economy.
"When you come home you need to be certified and credentialed quickly so you can get on the job. People need to understand how skilled you are."
But much, he said, remained to be done.
The unemployment rate among veterans had come down but, he admitted, it was still too high.
"We've got to sustain that momentum," he said. "That's one of the reasons I've proposed to Congress a Veterans Job Corps to put our veterans back to work protecting and rebuilding America. And today I'm again calling on Congress to pass this Veterans Job Corps pass this Veterans Jobs Corps and extend the tax cuts to businesses hiring veterans so we can give these American heroes the jobs and opportunities they deserve."