We won't rest until VA problems fixed, Biden says

Vice President Joe Biden watches as President Obama announces his choice of Robert McDonald to be the next veterans affairs secretary on June 30, 2014 in the Department of Veterans Affairs on June 30, 2014 in Washington, D.C.


ST. LOUIS -- Vice President Joe Biden told veterans that the Obama administration won't rest until major problems at the Veterans Affairs Department get fixed.

Biden addressed a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, saying that the country learned that there are "many, many" things that must be done to fix the VA.

Biden said acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson will speak in depth Tuesday about the VA's difficult condition and what's being done to correct it. Gibson took over in May amid an uproar over treatment delays and other problems at VA facilities nationwide, including reports that dozens died awaiting treatment.

Biden said the government's only truly "sacred obligation" is to equip those sent to war and to care for them and their families when they return. He concluded, "There are many, many things that have to be done to meet that obligation," but said Bob McDonald, the president's nominee for VA secretary, was a "man who gets it."

He said McDonald, who served as an Army Captain for five years and led Procter & Gamble as its CEO, would have the business management experience to fix problems at the VA.

Biden also emphasized new programs to match veterans with jobs, announcing that the VA will sponsor a $10 million competition to identify top job training models. The most applause came when he announced that for the first time, military truck drivers automatically qualify for the commercial driver's license necessary for truck driver jobs in all 50 states, no test required. So far, around 6,000 veterans have taken advantage of that opportunity.

Biden also spoke about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, telling the crowd that the "9/11 generation" was the "most capable group of warriors the world has ever known."

"We gave the Iraqi people the chance to seize control of their own destiny," he said. "While our military can provide the opportunity, it cannot solve the problems or the societies. That rests upon the people and the leaders of the countries. Iraq still has a chance at a future, thanks to you."

Biden spoke further about U.S. activities to help the Iraqi government fight ISIS, saying that he believes the threat of ISIS, which he described as a "common enemy" of Sunnis and Shiites alike, could actually make Iraqis "finally come together."

He held up a card he said his staff gives him each morning with updated numbers of the number of soldiers who have been killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, he said, there have been 6,688 fallen angels.