In the years that followed, New Orleans could have remained a symbol of destruction and decay; of a storm that came and the inadequate response that followed. It was not hard to imagine a day when we’d tell our children that a once vibrant and wonderful city had been laid low by indifference and neglect. But that’s not what happened. It’s not what happened at Ben Franklin. It’s not what happened here at Xavier. It’s not what happened across New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. (Applause.) Instead this city has become a symbol of resilience and of community and of the fundamental responsibility that we have to one another.
— President Barack Obama, Xavier College, August 30, 2010
Today I wore my “We’re Back” cap from the 2007 Mardi Gras in NOLA and added some golden yellow and green to the attire to pay homage to the survivors of and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. President Obama, Michelle and their daughters made a post-vacation stop to Xavier College today. For several years, volunteers in partnership with communities have committed to the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans now becoming an example of both natural disaster and government response failures and recoveries.
Transcript of President Obama’s remarks are available here.
And this past week, for the 5th anniversary of Katrina, HBO released Spike Lee‘s sequel to “When the Levees Broke” – “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.” It covers the one-two punch on New Orleans from Katrina to BP to the extent of the recovery for some, definitely not for all. We know these things take time and a serious dedication to get the job done. But the aftershocks on the human psyche will need more than just air time.
THE PRESIDENT’S WEEKLY
As combat operations officially, if not technically, come to a close in Iraq, the President preps Americans for returning soldiers. Veterans benefits which include rehabilitation, job, education, health and accessibility services will have to be seriously revamped for the men and women returning from both Iraq and Afghanistan. The President specifically mentions expanding VA health care and hosptials to look after the “unique needs of female veterans.” The President also mentions “new resources to job training and placement.” Employers are requested by law to hold positions open for reservists, but often that isn’t guaranteed.
I’ve directed the federal government to hire more veterans, including disabled veterans, and I encourage every business in America to follow suit. This new generation of veterans has proven itself to be a new generation of leaders. They have unmatched training and skills; they’re ready to work; and our country is stronger when we tap their extraordinary talents.
It took nearly 20 years for people to take Vietnam veterans’ post-war distresses seriously; several years before Gulf War syndrome was not treated like some form of imaginary shell shock. Employers, health professionals, the VA, DoD, and local communities will have to do more than wave flags when these soldiers return home.