The number of claims has also increased. In 2001, the VA completed approximately 480,000 claims, in 2002 approximately 796,000 claims and in 2003 around 827,000 claims, according to Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the VA completed more than 1 million claims each year, he said.
Veterans service organizations say filing a claim can be as challenging as filing a complex tax return or defending yourself in a lawsuit. In the meantime, veterans experience hardships.
In the expanded education initiative, Obama called the measure "8 Keys to Success" and said more than 250 community colleges and universities would help veterans afford and complete degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses. The education would help the veterans land jobs in high-growth areas of the economy.
Obama said among his priorities is "making sure that our veterans have the opportunity to pursue the American dream."
Obama also pressed Congress to adopt his $5 billion Veterans Jobs Corps proposal that would put former servicemen and women to work building infrastructure such as roads and bridges, similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s.
At a time when the nation is struggling with the legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama sought to shore up support for his veterans agenda one day after he signed into law the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which eases travel and seeks to expedite the passenger screening process for severely injured and disabled veterans and active service personnel.
Obama also sought to make permanent two new veterans' tax credits, which will expire at the end of this year. Under the Returning Heroes tax credit, an incentive up to $5,600 is given to employers hiring jobless veterans. Under the Wounded Warrior tax credit, a tax credit up to $9,600 is extended to firms employing long-term unemployed veterans with military-related disabilities.