President Barack Obama said on Sunday that the U.S. should "never rush into war" as he helped to dedicate a new memorial in honor of disabled veterans.
"It is America's sons and daughters who bear the scars of war for the rest of their lives," Obama said at remarks at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony.
Obama, who has vowed not to send any ground combat troops to Iraq or Syria to fight self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorists, said troops should be sent into harms’ way only “when it’s absolutely necessary.
“And if we do, let’s always give them the strategy, the mission and the support that they need to get the job done,” he said.
The dedication comes months after Obama’s Veterans Affairs Secretary resigned during a health care scandal and Obama noted “as a nation we have not always fulfilled our obligations to those who serve in our name. This is a painful truth.”
He noted that after the Civil War and World War I, disabled veterans had to organize and march for benefits that were rightfully owed to them.
“Over decades, our nation has worked to do better, to do right by these patriots,” he said. “Those who have fought for our freedom, should never be shunned, should never be forgotten.”
He said the memorial marks the battles veterans waged overseas — and at home, as they recovered from injuries, in some cases re-learning how to walk and how to talk.
“America, if you want to know what real strength is, you want to see the character of our country, a country that never quits, look at these men and women,” he said of the wounded veterans.
He called on Americans to deliver their own salute to the troops: “If you see a veteran, maybe with a prosthetic arm or leg, burns on their face, don’t ever look away," he said. "You go up and you reach out. You shake their hand, look them in the eye and say those words every veteran should hear, every time: ‘Welcome home. Thank you. We need you, more than ever.’ “