The First Lady Thanks V.A. Workers

Susan Walsh/Associated Press First Lady
Michelle Obama visited
the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday

By Rachel Swarns

The missions of the First Couple melded

on Tuesday, with First Lady Michelle Obama

praising employees at the Department

of Veterans Affairs for helping

the nation's military.

Just a short while later, President Obama

honored a regiment of soldiers for their

heroism during the Vietnam War,

saying their bravery inspired

all Americans during this time of war.

"You're their health care providers; you're

their life insurers,'' Mrs. Obama told

the employees at the veterans agency.

"And you're the key to educational
opportunity for many of them.

You help them buy homes, which is really

truly the very claim to the dream

that they defend.

And while you do all that, you're working

to transform this very system to be

the 21st century organization that's worthy

of today's veterans and

the veterans of tomorrow.

So I wanted to say thank you for all of that.''

It was Mrs. Obama's 12th visit to

a federal agency this year and

an opportunity to focus on the military

and military families, one of her priorities.

(Last week, Mrs. Obama visited soldiers

and their families at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.)

In both visits, she made a point

of touting her husband's efforts

to support the military, military families and veterans.

Mrs. Obama said that the Obama administration

is expanding health care coverage

to an additional 500,000 veterans,

increasing the number of mobile

health clinics and expanding access

to care in rural areas.

She said officials are increasingly

focused on post-traumatic stress

and traumatic brain injuries,

which she described as "the new care

required for today's wars."

She said the budget includes the biggest

single-year percentage increase

in financing in three decades.

And she noted that the president

will sign into law the Veterans

Health Care Budget Reform

and Transparency Act on Thursday.

"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,''

Mrs. Obama said.

"After all, our veterans' unwavering

belief in this country is what inspired them

to serve in the first place; they deserve

our unwavering support in return,''

the first lady said. "They deserve

the care that they were promised

and they deserve the benefits that they earned.''

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