Read all posts from August 2012

  • Watch President Obama speak to the troops.

    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.

  • Watch the West Wing Week here.

    Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on

    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

  • 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

  • Ed. note: Tune in to 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

  • 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.

    Watch the West Wing Week here.

    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.'

    Related Links:


  • 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.

    Watch the Rhodes Ahead: Second Anniversary of the End of the Combat Mission in Iraq here.

  • Personnel in the National Guard Command Center monitor Tropical Storm Isaac (August 29, 2012)

    (August 28 - Personnel in the National Guard Command Center in Arlington, Va., monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Isaac as it makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico. The NGCC, which serves as a hub that provides an overall tracking and coordination of National Guard elements, has gone to 24 hour operations in preparation for Isaac making landfall. Isaac's predicted path has it hitting the Gulf Coast region sometime Tuesday or Wednesday. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy.)

    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 for additional information.

  • 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.

    Saluting Service in Iraq: 8/31/2010

    On August 31st, 2010, President Obama ended the combat mission in Iraq. The President and First Lady joined administration officials and people across the country to support and thank our veterans, troops and military families online. Share your message of thanks with #SaluteTroops.

    Storified by The White House · Thu, Aug 30 2012 10:28:07

    President Obama Salutes the Troops, and Invites You to Joinwhitehouse
    The First Lady Shares her Message of Thanks to the Troops and their Familieswhitehouse
    Thanks to our troops for the tremendous sacrifices that they & all of their loved ones make #SaluteTroops Carney (EOP)
    I salute the troops with my appreciation and love and welcome them home with joy. Julia Pearl Mathie
    Today, Pres. Obama brings the combat mission in #Iraq to an end. Post your salute to the #troops coming home: #salutetroopsSusan Rice
    Our family's message to the troopswhitehouse
    RT @berriffic: To all the troops & their loved ones! We owe you forever #salutetroopsThe White House
    Support the Troops
    RT @Wilson_Lopez: I want to thank the brave men & women of our armed forces who served in Iraq. You're all true heros! #salutetroopsThe White House
    Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden shares her salute to the troopswhitehouse
    Support the Troops
    Welcome home. and THANK YOU for your service.....Wanda Grubbs Schwerer
    Jim Lehrer Salutes the Troopswhitehouse
    pausing today to thank our brave troops for their service & sacrifice in Iraq & around the world. #salutetroopsRyan Seacrest
    Support the Troops
    In advance of the President’s speech tonight on the end of combat operations in Iraq, I want to join with all Americans in thanking our troops and their families for their service and sacrifice.Steven Chu
    Ben Rhodeswhitehouse
    Support the Troops
    @merylbcole: Simply, thanks. To you and your families from me and mine. #salutetroops
    People everywhere are taking a moment to show their support for the #troops and their families: #salutetroopsStateDept
    Secretary Ray LaHoodwhitehouse
    As our combat mission ends, I join in thanking those who have served in Iraq-and honor those we've lost #SaluteTroopsNancy Pelosi
    Use #SaluteTroops to thank our troops, vets & military families➛ /via @whitehouse #MilitaryMonAlyssa Milano
    AKA Message - Gamma Phi Omega Chapterwhitehouse
    "Thank you for the huge sacrifice you have made for our country." - Nancy Wallace via
    Drew Brees salutes the troopswhitehouse
    @opticsguy: Thanks to all who have served, all who currently serve, and all of those families supporting our American Heroes! #salutetroops
    Support the Troops
    Thanks You Vets - From King Georgewhitehouse

    "Thank you all for your service and support. You help make this a great country by defending its people and honor in the name of freedom and justice. God bless you all, and the U.S." -John Jonesvia

    Thank You! from Libertyvillewhitehouse
    @JamesJRitchotte: Welcome home troops. My kids think you are real #superheroes. Thanks for your service and for watching our backs. #SaluteTroops
    Support the Troops
    Our message of support and thankswhitehouse

    "Thanks to all veterans and their families. You will be forever in my prayers and gratitude!" -Patricia Trisha Stauder via facebook

    "As a former Navy Guy. I would like to thank all the men and women that are serving and making us safe.Lets all Shake or hug a military person and show them that Americans are about" -Frank Chandlervia via
    Sec. Janet Napolitanowhitehouse
    Time to #salutetroops: I appreciate your service, particularly overseas, and will do my small part. Next: jobs for vets
    @slclzs: #salutetroops thank you for everything. You are part of what makes this nation great.
    Support the Troops
    @exploratoria: Thank you for your courage and self-sacrifice in supporting our freedom! #salutetroops
    Salute the Troops: Examiner.comexaminerhq
    Share your msg of support & thanks 2 the troops, vets & military families @ V @WalkWithHeroes <#MilitaryMonReeni
    "Simply to put it: Welcome home, thanks for making America great" -Jon Reeves via facebook
    Support the Troops

    "All i have to say is that every single one of you are absolute heroes. Keep safe out there and all the best from my family." -Daniel Williams via

    Support the Troops
    Share your message of thanks. Use the hashtag #SaluteTroops on twitter,
    update your status on facebook and share a message of thanks with a military family at

    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:

  • DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino hold a briefing (August 28, 2012)

    (Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino hold a briefing with FEMA Regions in regards to Hurricane Isaac preparations.)

    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:

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    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.

  • 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

    Below are a few tips we wanted to highlight for your safety:

  • Infographic_fuel_economy_standards_final_small

    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.

  • President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press on Tropical Storm Isaac (August 28, 2012)

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press on Tropical Storm Isaac, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Aug. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    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

    Watch the President speak on preparing for tropical storm Isaac.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    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 More information about the video submission process is available at  

    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.

  • 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 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

    Update: President Obama spoke Tuesday morning about preparing for Tropical Storm Isaac, click here for the video.

    • Official Portrait

      Portrait of Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing mission in his space suit.

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    • Flying High

      Neil Armstrong poses during a training mission.

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    • Gemini VIII Crew

      Astronauts David R. Scott (left), Pilot; and, Neil A. Armstrong (right), Command Pilot, pose with model of the Gemini Spacecraft.

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    • Boarding Gemini VIII

      Commander Neil Armstrong (right) and pilot David R. Scott prepare to board the Gemini-Titan VIII.

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    • Apollo 11 Crew

      The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.

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    • Practice Makes Perfect

      In preparation of the Lunar landing, Apollo 11 crew members underwent training activities to practice activities they would be performing.

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    • Beginning the Mission

      The Apollo 11 crew leaves Kennedy Space Center's Manned Spacecraft Operations Building during the pre-launch countdown.

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    • On the Lunar Surface

      This panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.

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    • Mission Accomplished

      Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 Commander, inside the Lunar Module as it rests on the lunar surface after completion of his historic moonwalk.

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    • In Quarantine

      President Richard M. Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for

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    • Apollo 11 Welcome

      New York City welcomes the Apollo 11 crew in a ticker tape parade down Broadway and Park Avenue.

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    • Space Medal of Honor

      Astronaut Neil Armstrong received the first Congressional Space Medal of Honor from President Jimmy Carter, assisted by Captain Robert Peterson.

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    • Fly Me to the Moon

      Quincy Jones presented a platinum copy of 'Fly Me to the Moon' to Senator John Glenn and Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong.

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    • Giants Among Us

      Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are recognized for their achievement on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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    See the full-size gallery

    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.

  • 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.

  • President Obama speaks to the American people about the critical need to strengthen and preserve Medicare for our seniors and future generations.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Watch the West Wing Week.

    Here's a quick glimpse at what happened this week on

    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

    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."

  • 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.