The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Background on the President’s Lunch with Post-9/11 Minnesota Veterans
Today, the President is having lunch with five post-9/11 Minnesota veterans at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, MN. A disproportionate share of post-9/11 veterans are from rural America and comprise about 39% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans enrolled into the VA Health Care System. The lunch is an opportunity for the President to hear directly from rural veterans about their experiences and discuss the steps his administration has taken, including the recently announced Veterans Employment Initiative, to ensure all of America’s veterans have the support they need and deserve when they leave the military.
Veterans Attending Lunch
- Henry B. Mathia, Navy Veteran (Woodbury, MN)
- Scott J. Peer, Army National Guard Veteran (Cannon Falls, MN)
- Timothy K. Loney, Army Veteran (Saint Paul, MN)
- Thomas B. Newman, Army National Guard Veteran (Hugo, MN)
- Joseph D. Kidd, Navy Veteran (Stewartville, MN)
Background on Administration Policies to Support Rural Veterans and Military Families
Rural Americans are an integral part of our military. Although rural residents account for 17% of the U.S. population, they make up 44% of the men and women who serve in uniform. In fact, approximately 6.1 million veterans currently live in rural communities. Their immeasurable sacrifices have made our borders safer and our country stronger.
Despite their contributions, many of our veterans face enormous economic challenges. The unemployment rate as of July 2011 among post-September 11 veterans is 12.4%. Many of these unemployed veterans need educational training and job certification to successfully transition back into the civilian workforce. To fully honor the service of the men and women in uniform, this Administration has worked hard to make sure our veterans receive the medical care, training, and employment support they deserve in the rural communities where they live.
Specifically, the President’s Veterans Employment Initiative has hired over 100,000 veterans in the federal government in the past year and a half. Moreover, under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has provided education benefits to over 215,000 veteran students in rural areas and 3,600 veteran students in highly rural areas. Through the Office of Rural Health, the VA has also targeted $250 million annually to improve access and quality of care to rural veterans. Further, VA’s home loan guaranty program has helped over 300,000 rural veterans and service members purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage. And First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have led Joining Forces, the national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to provide our service members and their families with the jobs and economic opportunities they deserve.
Furthermore, on August 5th, 2011, the President announced a sweeping initiative to boost veterans hiring and ensure that the men and women in uniform leave service with the credentials and training they need in today’s civilian workforce. The proposal includes the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, which would provide strong incentives for firms to hire unemployed veterans, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which would increase incentives to hire unemployed veterans with service connected disabilities. The President also challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans by the end of 2013, and a large number of companies have already stepped up to meet that challenge. Collectively, these efforts will help create jobs and improve economic outcomes for our veterans, and fulfill the promise we have made to the millions of men and women who have bravely served our country.