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Eye Opener: Veterans Day 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! There are roughly 24 million military veterans alive today, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Of those, roughly 1.5 million have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thirty-three percent of all living veterans served during the Vietnam era, while 5.2 million served during the Gulf War period, which VA says started in Aug. 1990 and continues today. About 2.6 million served in World War II, 2.8 million in the Korean War and another 6 million served in peacetime.

Despite the large number of older veterans, President Obama paid special tribute to current service members and more recent veterans during his speech Tuesday at a memorial service at Fort Hood:

"This generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have volunteered in a time of certain danger," Obama said, noting later that "They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different and difficult places. They have stood watch in blinding deserts and on snowy mountains. They have extended the opportunity of self-government to peoples that have suffered tyranny and war. They are man and woman; white, black, and brown; of all faiths and stations -- all Americans, serving together to protect our people, while giving others half a world away the chance to lead a better life."

"It will be said of this generation that they believed under the most trying of tests; that they persevered not just when it was easy, but when it was hard; and that they paid the price and bore the burden to secure this nation, and stood up for the values that live in the hearts of all free peoples," Obama said.

With that in mind, The Post has several stories today about veterans young and old:

'She is the face of the new generation': Yours truly reports on Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth and her work to reshape the department.

In Congress, injured vets signing on for duty: News of a fellowship program on Capitol Hill for returning wounded veterans.

A World War II veteran's last battle: A soldier seeks further recognition for his lieutenant.

The quiet homefront heroics of a military spouse: Columnist John Kelly writes today that there's life. There's married life. And then there's married military life.

• Columnist Courtland Milloy writes today that concerns about how we protect our soldiers at home and abroad won't be allayed by a pat on the back.

For the growing list of those killed while in uniform, visit The Post's Faces of the Fallen.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Veterans Day Events: President Obama will speak following an official remembrance at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Vice President Biden will host a luncheon for veterans at his official residence. The National Park Service will hold a ceremony at 1 p.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

More Nominees Announced: Obama has tapped Erin C. Conaton to serve as undersecretary of the Air Force; Cynthia Attwood to serve as a member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission; Sandford Blitz to serve as a co-chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission; and Douglas A. Criscitello to serve as chief financial officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Track all of Obama's nominees with The Post's Head Count.

Cabinet and Staff News: First Lady Michelle Obama's poll numbers slide. White House Communications Director Anita Dunn leaving soon.

Navy color guard at World Series game stirs diversity discussion: Leaders at the U.S. Naval Academy tinkered with the composition of the color guard last month so the group would not be exclusively white and male.

States mold school policies to win new federal money: Learn how state officials are parsing every public statement by Education Secretary Arne Duncan for nuances that could help them win some of the $4 billion competition for federal school dollars.

Ex-astronaut gets year probation in attack on rival: Lisa Nowak, a Navy captain, pleaded guilty to felony burglary of a car and misdemeanor battery to avoid a trial scheduled next month. She had originally been charged with two felonies, attempted kidnapping and burglary, and misdemeanor battery.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 11, 2009; 5:58 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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