Watch CBSN Live

Obama honors veterans, promises benefits

On this Veterans Day, President Obama participated in ceremonies honoring all Americans who have donned a military uniform, touted the end of two wars and promised benefits for service members once they return.

"This is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops fighting and dying in Iraq," Mr. Obama said after laying a wreath at the Cemetery. "Thirty-three thousand of our troops have now returned from Afghanistan, and the transition there is underway."

Mr. Obama acknowledged that more than a million service members will have served in the two wars and will be transitioning away from the military and into civilian life. He recounted a promise he made on the campaign trail and during his first term: to provide benefits and help for veterans.

"I promised your generation that when your tour comes to an end, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil, you'll be welcomed home to an America that will forever fight for you, just as hard as you've fought for us," he said.

"[N]o one who fights for this country overseas should ever have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home," Mr. Obama added. He promoted a program led by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden where 125,000 veterans have been hired by private businesses. He also touted the post-9/11 G.I. bill that provides financial assistance for veterans' higher education.

He said his administration is working to clear the backlog of disability benefits and treatments. "No veteran should have to wait months or years for the benefits that you've earned, so we will continue to attack the claims backlog. We won't let up. We will not let up," he said.

Mr. Obama offered his praise of current and past service members and their families. "I've often said the most humbling part of my job is serving as Commander-in-Chief," he said.

After the official ceremony ended, Mr. and Mrs. Obama stopped at the section of the cemetery, section 60, where service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been laid to rest.