President Obama on Friday called for a new conservation program that would put veterans to work rebuilding trails, roads and levees on public lands. He also said that he is seeking additional funding that would help local communities hire veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.
"Let's get more cops on the beat, let's get more rangers in the parks, let's get more firefighters on call, and in the process, we're going to put more veterans back to work," Obama said Friday, speaking from a fire station in Arlington, Virginia. "They've already risked their lives defending America. They should have the opportunity to rebuild America."
The president previewed his plan last week in his State of the Union address. It targets veterans who served after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a group that is having a particularly difficult time finding jobs after leaving the military. These veterans have an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent that is higher than the current national rate of 8.3 percent.
Obama suggested that his proposals could be financed at least in part by the savings that will result from ending the war in Iraq.
"Congress should take the money that we're no longer spending on war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building here at home," he said.
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(Photo: Larry Downing/Reuters)