speaking to a crowd of vets in new mexico, here is some of what obama said during the question and answer period:
"one of the best ways to honor the fallen soldiers is to honor the ones who came back, who survived."
obama will reverse priority 8 (vets that have incomes that exceed the threshhold, which is between $30-35,000 nationwide, who don't get healthcare) so all vets have access to healthcare. bush reduced the number of vets able to get healthcare to save money. i'll add here that on that income, you can't afford healthcare. what was george bush thinking? with all the money being spent on the war in iraq, it probably didn't make the budget.
obama said he will work to get veterans facilities just for women.
he will work for better veteran's administration clinics and more efficient ones by putting in an electronic system.
he will screen every vet for post traumatic stress disorder.
he will completely revamp the small business administration. he called it a "sleepy bureacracy." there's not enough outreach in general or to vets. he wants to provide more opportunities for vets, as well as more access to capital.
a questioner asked what he thought about blackwater, a private company that provides security in iraq. obama says he's not a believer in private contractors doing this job. he won't be able to pull contractors out right away. first he'll need to build up ground security forces.
a questioner said: tell us about your grandfather and how it affected you.
obama said that like a lot of veterans of wwII, his grandfather didn't like talking about it. part of the reason is they suffered in silence. the concept of post traumatic stress disorder wasn't known then. vets sometimes resort to alcohol or drugs, which explains why so many vets are homeless. he says there are 200,000 homeless vets.
obama said he had an uncle who went to liberate auschwitz. when he came home, he went into the attic and didn't come out. they didn't have facilities to help them work through that kind of pain.
obama said part of our security is our economy. that's what bush doesn't understand. if our economy isn't strong, then we will have a weak military. there's never been a nation on earth that saw its economy decline and maintained a strong military.
a questioner asks about foreign language training: we've got to train today's troops for today's wars. it's unlikely that we have the same kind of traditional wars in wwII. most of our wars will be like the battles in afghanistan. more emphasis will be on peace keeping, conflict resolution and nation building. that training has to include foreign language training.
when obama visited iraq, he asked about translators. they said they didn't have enough for every platoon. they rely on local translators. if we're going to ask our military to train local police officers, they should have some expertise in that.
he also called for a stronger, non military, civilian security operation. we're asking our military to do everything -- teachers, social workers, engineers. that's not what they're trained to do.
we need troops on the ground in afghanistan but we also need people to teach them to grow something other than poppy.
obama's remarks prior to the q&a