Our Top Stories
Read all posts from August 2012
Megan SlackAugust 31, 2012
05:16 PM EDT
Two years after his visit to Fort Bliss that marked the end of the combat mission in Iraq, President Obama returned there today to speak to the troops, and discuss his commitment to standing by those who served as the nation winds down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, when I was here last, I made you a pledge. I said that, as President, I will insist that America serves you and your families as well as you've served us. And there again, I meant what I said. Because part of ending wars responsibly is caring for those who fought in it. That’s why I wanted to come back to Bliss on this anniversary to reaffirm our solemn obligations to you and your families.You see, we may be turning a page on a decade of war, but America's responsibilities to you have only just begun.
“Just as we give you the best equipment and technology on the battlefield,” the President said, “we need to give you the best care and support when you come home.” This includes continuing the efforts underway to strengthen and expand health care and mental health care service for troops, particularly for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD, and providing resources to help returning service members get the education, training, and support they need to transition back into the civilian workforce. It also means giving our military families the respect and the support that they deserve.
August 31, 2012
04:00 PM EDT
Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Remembering Neil Armstrong: Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away last weekend. In a statement issued on Saturday, President Obama said that “Neil was among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time.”
Check out the photo gallery remembering Neil Armstrong and watch the video of Neil Armstrong’s visit to the White House in 2009. To learn more about Neil Armstrong, visit NASA.gov.
Matt ComptonAugust 31, 2012
03:00 PM EDT
In September 2009, the President announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in May 2012. Today’s release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 2.5 million—all of which can be viewed in our Disclosures section. In addition, due to personal safety concerns, the White House has withheld two visitor records related to participants in a meeting on domestic violence.
Ed. note: For more information, check out Ethics.gov.
Megan SlackAugust 31, 2012
12:40 PM EDT
Ed. note: Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live today at 3:00 pm EDT to watch President Obama speak to troops at Fort Bliss about our responsibility to stand by those who have served as we wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since September 11, 2001, more than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, many of them serving with unprecedented duration and frequency. Long deployments and intense combat conditions require optimal support for the emotional and mental health needs of our service members and their families, and ensuring that they receive the support they deserve is a top priority for the Obama Administration.
That's why today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that will help the federal government better meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for our troops and veterans, as well as their families.
Building on the ongoing efforts to expand these services, today's Executive Order:
- Strengthens suicide prevention efforts across the force and in the veteran community
- Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between VA and community providers
- Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving our veterans
- Promotes mental health research and development of more effective treatment methodologies
- Launches a government-wide collaborative effort to address these issues through a Military and Veterans Mental Health Interagency Task Force
Adam GarberAugust 31, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It's the summer's special Mailbag Edition of West Wing Week, featuring Elizabeth Olson, Director of Presidential Correspondence. This week we're taking a moment to pick out a few of your letters from the thousands that arrive everyday here at the White House and answer some of your questions on immigration, healthcare, and the economy. That's August 24th to August 30th or, "It's Summer Mailbag Time!"
First, we went over to the National Economic Council to see Deputy Director, Brian Deese, who answered some of your letters about the economy.
Then we went over to the Domestic Policy Council to talk with Cecilia Muñoz about some of the letters she'd read about healthcare reform and the new deferred action process.
Tuesday, August 28th:
- The President made a statement about preparedness for the arrival of Hurricane Isaac.
Thursday, August 30th:
- We sat down with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who spoke about the upcoming two year anniversary of the end of the war in Iraq for 'The Rhodes Ahead.'
Megan SlackAugust 30, 2012
03:06 PM EDT
On August 31, 2010, President Obama traveled to Fort Bliss to mark the end of the combat mission in Iraq. On Friday, two years later, President Obama will return to Fort Bliss.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes sat down to discuss what to expect from the speech the President will deliver to service members there about winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation’s obligation to stand by those who fought and their families, and the ways his administration is delivering on that obligation as troops transition back to civilian life.
Matt ComptonAugust 30, 2012
02:23 PM EDT
This morning, Hurricane Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm, and by the end of the day, it's expected to further diminish to a tropical depression.
But as the storm continues moving north, federal emergency personnel are still monitoring its progress and mobilizing to provide relief for those in its path.
In the past 24 hours, federal officials have taken the following steps to respond Isaac. Check out the list, compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency below, or visit FEMA.gov for additional information.
Kori SchulmanAugust 30, 2012
01:31 PM EDT
On August 31st, 2010, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office. “So tonight,” he said, “I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.” To mark the historic moment, the President and First Lady joined administration officials and thousands of people from across the country to offer their support and appreciation for our veterans, troops, and military families. Explore some of the video messages, tweets, and facebook posts saluting our men and women in uniform.
Before his Oval Address in 2010, the President traveled to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas to speak with troops who had seen every phase of what had become one of America’s longest wars, and who continue to serve in Afghanistan. This Friday, August 31st, 2012, exactly two-years later, the President Obama will return to Fort Bliss to address troops on the progress we’ve made in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to discuss the steps this Administration has taken to support our service members and veterans at home.
To mark two years since the end of combat in Iraq, and with troops still serving in Afghanistan, take a moment to show your support for those that serve and their families. Here’s how you can participate:
Matt ComptonAugust 29, 2012
11:34 AM EDT
Late last night, as Hurricane Isaac made landfall along the Gulf Coast, FEMA provided another update about the ongoing efforts from federal officials to respond to the storm.
Earlier in the day, FEMA Adminstrator Craig Fugate and National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb briefed President Obama on the expected track for the hurricane and the preparations underway to provide relief efforts.
The President has already signed emergency declarations for the states of Mississippi and Louisiana in order to ensure local leaders get the support they need.
Before Isaac made landfall, FEMA dispatched four Incident Management Assistance Teams to emergency operations centers in Gulf states and positioned two Mobile Emergency Response Support teams and additional resources in locations nearby the areas expected to be affected by the storm.
FEMA also has supply distribution centers in Georgia and Texas and has established additional supply sites Mississippi and Louisiana. Federal officials have also deployed an urban search and rescue team to Louisiana, and additional support teams are ready to deploy as needed and requested.
For those currently in the path of the storm, FEMA has provided some useful safety information:
Former Acting Secretary Rebecca BlankAugust 28, 2012
05:28 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from commerce.gov.
This morning, I joined economic development leaders from around the country to discuss ongoing efforts to create jobs and grow the U.S. economy. The Economic Development Forum was hosted by the U.S. Commerce Department’s SelectUSA initiative, in partnership with the White House Business Council and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the world’s largest professional organization of economic development practitioners.
The forum provided an opportunity to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to support U.S. businesses and encourage companies to bring good jobs back to America, a trend called insourcing.
August 28, 2012
01:15 PM EDT
As Hurricane Isaac approaches landfall near southeastern Louisiana, residents throughout the Gulf coast are busy preparing for the impact of the storm. Federal response teams are ready to mobilize in support of state and local leaders.
Even for those of us outside the trajectory of the hurricane, now is a good time to sit down with family and talk about how to prepare for extreme weather.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has put together a list of guidelines to help you be safe and ready before, during, and after hurricanes. To learn more about FEMA hurricane guidelines, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes.
Below are a few tips we wanted to highlight for your safety:
Secretary Ray LaHoodAugust 28, 2012
01:13 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from The Fast Lane -- the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
This is a monumental day for the American people, the U.S. auto industry and the Obama Administration’s efforts to make our cars more efficient. Today, DOT and the Environmental Protection Agency are finalizing national standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for passenger cars and light trucks built in the years 2017 through 2025.
Thanks to their work, the car or light truck you'll be driving in 2025 will not be your grandfather's Oldsmobile. The Administration’s combined fuel economy efforts represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in decades. By 2025, the average car will achieve a fuel economy performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon, nearly double that of cars on the road today.
Matt ComptonAugust 28, 2012
11:56 AM EDT
After receiving the latest update about Tropical Storm Isaac from the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and the National Hurricane Center, President Obama spoke from the Diplomatic Room about the steps his administration is taking to prepare for the storm.
"Yesterday I approved a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana so they can get the help that they need right away, particularly around some of the evacuations that are taking place," he said. "And right now, we already have response teams and supplies ready to help communities in the expected path of the storm."
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and other federal officials have spoken with Gulf state governors and other local leaders to discuss their needs in advance of the storm.
The President urged those who live in potentially affected areas to pay close attention to warnings and evacuation orders posted by local officials.
"We’re dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area," he said. "Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously."
If you need information about what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, please visit Ready.gov
Karen MillsAugust 28, 2012
11:46 AM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from sba.gov.
I have the great privilege to meet with many amazing small business owners across the country. I get to hear their stories – stories about why they started a business, how their business improves their community, how business ownership has enriched their life, and often how SBA was an important resource to make it happen.
These stories inspire me. That’s why we put together Small Business Owners Speak, a new online feature highlighting the voices of successful small business owners. This interactive map plots short videos from small business owners who have started or grown a business and used an SBA service.
The videos on this map comprise the eligible submissions from our National Small Business Week video contest. To help reach more small business owners, SBA has opened Small Business Owners Speak to other entrepreneurs interested in submitting a video to be featured at www.sba.gov/stories. More information about the video submission process is available at www.sba.gov/stories.
Whether you’re just getting started or taking your business to the next level, hearing your peers speak about their experience can be very insightful.
Matt ComptonAugust 27, 2012
04:04 PM EDT
As Isaac gathers strength in the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters with the National Weather Center are tracking the path of the storm, while federal disaster response teams are already in place throughout the Gulf region, coordinating with state response centers.
In a call with reporters earlier today, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Dr. Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Center, discussed those preparations and the latest potential trajectory for the tropical storm.
Forecasters have issued storm warnings for an area stretching from central Louisiana to the Florida panhandle and through the course of the call, Fugate and Knabb stressed that now is the time to prepare for Isaac. Local residents should be ready to heed evacuation orders, if and when state and local officials issues those calls.
While Isaac is likely to become a hurricane today, Fugate and Knabb urged those in the path of the storm to focus less on its particular classification and more on the storm's size and the potential for a storm surge that could reach 6 to 12 feet -- as well as record levels of rain fall.
President Obama received a briefing from federal officials yesterday on efforts to prepare for the storm. FEMA's Instant Management Teams are already in place on the ground, and supplies like bottled water, food, and infant kits are being shipped to states under the storm warnings.
FEMA is providing regular updates about efforts to prepare for Isaac at FEMA.gov. The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Service are also providing new severe weather watches and warnings as they gather new information.
You can learn what to do before, during, and after a hurricane at Ready.gov.
Update: President Obama spoke Tuesday morning about preparing for Tropical Storm Isaac, click here for the video.
Megan SlackAugust 27, 2012
11:28 AM EDT
Update: President Obama has issued a Presidential Proclamation ordering United States flags to be flown at half-staff the day of Neil Armstrong's interment.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away this weekend.
In a statement issued on Saturday, President Obama said that “Neil was among the greatest of American heroes - not just of his time, but of all time.”
When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable - that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.
August 27, 2012
09:54 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from The Fast Lane -- the blog of the Department of Transportation.
Yesterday, I joined several of my DOT colleagues for a White House Business Council forum on American Economic Competitiveness focused on transportation infrastructure. It was great to sit down with businessmen and women from across the country; listen to their concerns and ideas; and discuss the Administration's initiatives on economic development, freight and passenger movement, and infrastructure financing.
It was exciting to meet with business leaders who understand that our transportation policies affect their bottom lines, and we heard over and over yesterday that transportation is an important priority for local chambers of commerce and their members.
Without freight corridors --whether air, sea, river, road, or rail-- businesses can't get access to raw materials or move their products to market. Without adequate transportation, employees can't get to their jobs and can't travel to meet distant vendors and customers to help grow their enterprises.
Matt ComptonAugust 25, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
August 24, 2012
05:28 PM EDT
Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts First-Ever Kids' State Dinner: On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the first-ever Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House, welcoming 54 budding chefs to a formal luncheon in the East Room as part of her Let’s Move! initiative. The guests, all between the ages of 8 and 12, represented all U.S. states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
Each of the guests, along with their parents, submitted a healthy recipe as part of Epicurious’ Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which invited families to create an original lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable and delicious, and follows the nutritional guidelines of MyPlate.
“Believe it or not, more than 1,200 kids submitted recipes for this challenge -- 1,200. It's a big competition,” the First Lady said. A panel of judges from the organizations that teamed up with Mrs. Obama on this initiative -- Epicurious, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture—tasted each of the recipes that made it to the final round of the competition and picked their favorites from each state, as Mrs. Obama explained.
To learn more about the Kids’ “State Dinner,” visit letsmove.gov/kids-state-dinner.
President Obama Held a Press Conference: Also on Monday, President Obama took questions from reporters and discussed a big new announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"Today, HHS announced that thanks to the health care law that we passed, nearly 5.4 million seniors with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average savings of more than $700 per person," he said. "This year alone, 18 million seniors with Medicare have taken advantage of new preventive care benefits like a mammogram or other cancer screening at no extra cost."
Megan SlackAugust 24, 2012
03:39 PM EDT
Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Florida to announce that 2,000 private sector businesses had hired or trained 125,000 veterans and military spouses in the past year through Joining Forces.
Check out behind the scenes footage from the announcement event in this new video, and hear veterans discuss what this initiative has meant to them as they transition back to civilian life and look for work that allows them to use the skills and experience they gained in the military to continue serving our country.
Watch the video on the Announcement of 125,000 Hires Through Joining Forces, here.