Back to Work!
Thursday, October 24, 2013
I am so happy and excited to be
back at work after the federal government shutdown, and to have hit the ground
running. We deeply appreciate the Veterans and Military Families, as well as
the men and women who work so hard to serve and support them, who were affected
by the shutdown.
This newsletter contains recent
White House updates that relate to Veterans and Military Families. These
newsletters will be sent out periodically, and the most up-to-date information
can always be found on whitehouse.gov.
Below you can find details on the
President’s latest remarks on the Affordable Care Act and the work being done
to improve its implementation, former U.S. Army Captain William Swenson’s Medal
of Honor ceremony, and other updates.
Office of Public Engagement
President Obama Awards the Medal of Honor to
Captain William Swenson
On October 15, 2013, President
Obama presented the Medal of Honor to former U.S. Army Captain William Swenson.
Last month, the United States Army released a remarkable
piece of video. It’s from the combat helmet cameras of a Medevac helicopter
crew in Afghanistan. It’s shaky and grainy, but it takes us to the frontlines
that our troops face every day. And in that video, as the helicopter touches
down by a remote village, you see, out of a cloud of dust, an American soldier.
He’s without his helmet, standing in the open, exposing
himself to enemy fire, standing watch over a severely wounded soldier. He helps
carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter, and places him inside. Then,
amidst the whipping wind and deafening roar of the blades, he does something
unexpected. He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head – a simple
act of compassion and loyalty to a brother in arms. And as the door closes and
the helicopter takes off, he turns and goes back the way he came, back into the
In our nation’s history, we have presented our highest
military decoration, the Medal of Honor, nearly 3,500 times for actions above
and beyond the call of duty. But this may be the first time that we can
actually bear witness to a small part of those actions for ourselves. And today
we honor the American in that video – the soldier who went back in – Captain
Swenson received the Medal of
Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Embedded Trainer and
Mentor of the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor
Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th
Mountain Division, during a lengthy battle with the Taliban in Kunar Province,
Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.
Moments like this, Americans like Will, remind us what our
country can be at its best – a nation of citizens who look out for one another;
who meet our obligations to one another, not just when it’s easy, but when it’s
hard. Especially when it’s hard. Will, you’re an example – to everyone in this
city, to our whole country – of the professionalism and patriotism we should
strive for – whether we wear the uniform or not.
Read this full White House blog post.
Read the President’s full remarks.
Watch a video of the ceremony.
Here’s What’s Being Done to Make
On October 1, HealthCare.gov opened for business, offering
Americans a new way to compare health insurance plans and enroll in coverage.
Nearly 20 million people have visited the site, and Americans all over the
country are signing up for affordable, high-quality health insurance.
But, asPresident Obama explained on Monday, the web
site hasn’t worked as well as it’s supposed to.
"The problem has been that
the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the
insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no
sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck
during the application process," he said. "And there’s no excuse for
the problems, and these problems are getting fixed."
President Obama also reminded
Americans that whileHealthCare.govwill ultimately be the
easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplaces, it isn’t the only way to
apply and enroll.
President Barack Obama
delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act during a statement in the Rose
Garden of the White House, Oct. 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete
as we redouble our efforts to get the site working as well as it’s supposed
to," he said, "we’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can
still buy the same quality, affordable insurance plans the old-fashioned way –
offline, either over the phone or in person.”
Check out the graphic below to
learn more about what’s being done to make HealthCare.gov better and how you can sign up
to get covered in other ways.
Read this White House blog post.
An Open Letter to Our Veterans and Their
First Lady Michelle Obama wrote
an open letter to veterans and their families. You can read it below, or click here for the blog post.
Back when Jill Biden and I
started Joining Forces, we said that one of our top priorities was the health
and well-being of our veterans and their families -- and we said that not only
as First and Second Ladies, but as mothers and wives. For us, there's nothing
more important than knowing that our families are healthy and happy. And after
spending so much time with military families and hearing your stories of
service and sacrifice for our country, I know that that's your priority as
But while many veterans qualify
for health coverage through VA programs, we know that today, there are 1.3
million uninsured veterans and nearly 1 million uninsured family members of
veterans. As a result, right now, people who've already sacrificed so much for
this country all over the world have to face yet another challenge here at
home: dealing with the worry that one accident or illness could mean losing
everything you have; enduring all those everyday stresses -- the pains you try
to ignore, the symptoms you hope will just go away because you can't afford to
see a doctor.
That's just not right. But
thankfully, because of the new health care law, you and millions of other
Americans will soon have access to the quality, affordable health insurance you
need. This new law means you can get preventive care -- things like flu shots,
mammograms and vaccines for kids -- without additional costs or co-pays. It
means you can't be denied coverage because you have a pre-existing condition
like diabetes, cancer or asthma. And it means that young people can stay on
their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old.
And if you don't have insurance,
there's now a simple way for you and your family to get all of these benefits,
along with the coverage you need.
If you are a veteran who is
uninsured and hasn't applied for VA coverage, you may be eligible for care
through the VA. To find out if you are, just go to VA.gov/healthbenefits, call 877-222-VETS, or
visit your local VA facility in person.
If you are a veteran who isn't
eligible VA coverage, or if you're an uninsured family member of a veteran,
starting October 1st, you and your family can get coverage that fits your needs
and your budget -- no matter how much money you make -- through the Health
Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. There, you'll find a range of
insurance options, lined up side-by-side so you can compare what each plan
covers and how much it costs. Then, you simply choose the plan that works best
for you and your family -- and coverage begins as soon as January 1st. It's
your health, made simple.
Depending on your income, you may
be eligible for discounts on your monthly premiums; people with the lowest
incomes may be eligible for free coverage. And the majority of people without
insurance today will be able to find a plan for under $100 a month.
Once you get yourself signed up
for insurance, make sure everyone you know gets signed up, too. Talk to your
friends, your cousins, your neighbors, and especially the young people in your
lives. Send them to those websites, and bug them until they sign up, because
everyone in this country -- especially families like yours who have given us so
much -- deserves the security of knowing that you'll have health care when you
Dr. Jill Biden Welcomes Home the Delaware National
Guard’s 153rd Military Police Company
Dr. Jill Biden wrote a blog post
on her participation in the Delaware National Guard's 153rd Military Police
Company's homecoming ceremony. You can read it below, or click here to read the blog post.
On Saturday, September 28, it was
my incredible honor to participate in the homecoming ceremony for the Delaware
National Guard’s 153rd Military Police Company. Having been there when they
deployed nine months ago, it was especially meaningful to be able to welcome
them home. At their deployment in January, I congratulated one Guardsman and
his wife on the New Year’s Day birth of their daughter. On Saturday, I was
thrilled to meet in person their little nine-month-old girl and hug her mom.
As the mother of a Delaware
National Guardsman who deployed to Iraq for a year, I know well what these
families go through while their loved ones are away. The year my son Beau was
in Iraq, not a day passed when I didn’t wonder what he was doing and worry
about his safety.
As I said to the men and women of
the 153rd, this was a welcome home not just to them, but also to their families
who serve right alongside our men and women in uniform. During the 153rd’s
nine-month deployment, eight babies celebrated their first birthday while their
dads were overseas. Three service members missed their first wedding anniversary.
School plays, birthday parties, and graduations all had empty seats as family
members served overseas. But I also know the feeling of happiness from being a
proud mother when our service members return home, which is why I was thrilled
to take part in Saturday’s ceremony.
The members of the 153rd have a
lot of time to make up. And while they are transitioning back, I want them to
know that the American people will be there for them every step of the way.
That’s part of why the First Lady
and I started Joining Forces, our initiative to encourage all Americans to
support our troops and military families before, during, and after deployment.
As more and more of our men and women in uniform come home, it is more
important than ever that we as Americans show our support for those who have
served and for their families who have sacrificed so much.
Seeing all of the "Welcome Home
Daddy” signs on Saturday and watching families reunite with their loved ones is
a reminder of that sacrifice and our incredible debt to the men, women, and
their families who serve.
Dr. Jill Biden greets members of the USO after a
homecoming ceremony for members of the 153rd Military Police Company, at the
Governor Bacon Parade grounds in Delaware City, Delaware, Sept. 28, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)