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Friday, February 21, 2020
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‘We’ve Got Your Back’ POTUS Tells Troops, Vets and Families

President Obama and First Lady Pay Call on Local Troops

By Lou Phelps

April 27, 2012 – April 27, 2012 – President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Ft. Stewart in Savannah on Friday to announce a program aimed at ending abuse by colleges and universities seeking to sign up soldiers for course work using high pressure and sometimes unscrupulous tactics as they prepare to return to the work force - post Iraq and Afghanistan active duty.

His administration is working to encourage active duty military and retirees to pursue higher education “because higher education is the clearest path to the middle class.  That’s progress.  But we’ve got more to do.  We can’t be satisfied with what we’ve already done, we’ve got more to do.  We’ve got to make sure you’ve got every tool you need to make an informed decision when it comes to picking a school,” he said in his speech before 4,000 troops and their families.

Obama reminded the crowd that he had made a commitment three years ago that ,“America that will forever fight for you, just as you fought for us,” including focus on jobs for those going back into the civilian work force.  

“For me, as President, it’s been a top priority.  It’s something I worked on as a senator when I served on the Veterans Affairs Committee.  It’s something I continue to this day.  Since I took office, we’ve hired over 200,000 veterans to serve in the federal government,” he stated.

He credited from Democrats and Republicans who have worked cooperatively to put in place new tax credits for companies that hire veterans.  “We want every veteran who wants a job to get a job.  That’s the goal,” he added.

But his focus Friday was alleged abuse of military families by a number of colleges and universities. According to the President, “You go online to try and find the best school for military members, or your spouses, or other family members.  You end up on a website that looks official.  They ask you for your email, they ask you for your phone number.  They promise to link you up with a program that fits your goals.  Almost immediately after you’ve typed in all that information, your phone starts ringing.  Your inbox starts filling up.  You’ve never been more popular in your life.  All of these schools want you to enroll with them.”

Soldiers could be heard saying out loud, “You got that right.”  

“And it sounds good,” he continued. “Every school and every business should be out there competing for your skills and your talent and your leadership -- everything that you’ve shown in uniform.  But as some of your comrades have discovered, sometimes you’re dealing with folks who aren’t interested in helping you.  They’re not interested in helping you find the best program.  They are interested in getting the money.  They don’t care about you; they care about the cash.”

“So they harass you into making a quick decision with all those calls and emails.  And if they can’t get you online, they show up on post.  One of the worst examples of this is a college recruiter who had the nerve to visit a barracks at Camp Lejeune and enroll Marines with brain injuries -- just for the money.  These Marines had injuries so severe some of them couldn’t recall what courses the recruiter had signed them up for.  That’s appalling.  That’s disgraceful.  It should never happen in America,” he said, followed by applause from the crowd.   

The President signed the executive order in front the crowd which colleges enrolling members of the military, veterans or their families to provide clear information about their qualifications and available financial aid; to give them a fact sheet “Know Before You Owe,” that will outline options to pay for college; and to provide more educational counseling on how they can earn a degree.   The order also seeks to end aggressive recruiting of students.

Obama reminded the crowd that 8 million Americans were educated under the original GI Bill enacted after World War II, which “forged the backbone of what would become the largest middle class that the world had ever seen.  They built this country.  They turned us into that economic superpower,” he said.

“This country exists because generations of Americans worked together and looked out for one other.  Out of many, we are one.  Those are the values we’ve got to return to.  If we do, there’s nothing this country cannot achieve.  There’s no challenge that's too great for us.  There’s no destiny beyond our reach.  As long as we’re joined in common purpose and common resolve, better days will always lie ahead, and we will remind everybody why the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth,” he concluded.

The President and Mrs. Obama were introduced by Command Sergeant Major Ed Watson who began by telling his personal story of victimization by an online college back in 2010.

First Lady Michelle Obama was also on the trip to talk about her work with Jill Biden on ‘Joining Forces,’ formed last year, the nationwide campaign to recognize, honor and support veterans, troops and military families, and encourage U.S. companies to hire formerly active duty soldiers.

“In our first year alone, more than 1,600 businesses hired more than 60,000 veterans, and they pledged to hire at least 170,000 more in the coming years. National associations of doctors and nurses representing millions of health professionals are working to improve treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.  We've had TV shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Sesame Street; organizations like NASCAR and Disney -- they're working to share the stories of our military families with the rest of the country.  And these are just a few examples out of thousands all across the country.”

She also spoke about the sacrifice of the troops and their families, receiving frequent applause from the hundreds of spouses in the crowd who had waited several hours to see her and the President.

“I'm in awe of how many of you signed up to defend our country in a time of war, serving heroically through deployment after deployment.  I'm in awe of your families -- the spouses who run their households all alone, the kids who step up at home and succeed at school and stay strong through all the challenges they face.  With their service, they make your service possible,” she said.

And, she remembered the veterans, as well. “And I'm also in awe of our veterans, because I know that your service doesn’t end when you hang up your uniform.  For so many of you, your whole life is a tour of duty, and as you become leaders in our communities and continue to give back to our country, you keep serving.”

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