Fort Bliss Welcomes Obama's Pledge for Improved Access to Mental Healthcare


POSTED: Friday, August 31, 2012 - 12:30pm

UPDATED: Friday, August 31, 2012 - 5:47pm

Watch video for full speech

Fort Bliss troops welcomed President Obama on Friday after a private, round table discussion with military families and service members. 

The President arrived at Biggs Army Airfield Friday morning at his scheduled 11:30 a.m. time and was accompanied by Congressman Silvestre Reyes. 

His speech lasted about 30 minutes. He made several pledges to military families, promising to withdraw soldiers from Afghanistan by 2014. He also pledged to adddress the issue of providing troops, veterans and families better access to mental healthcare in an effort to reduce the spiking suicide rates among soldiers.  The President signed an executive order shortly before arriving at Fort Bliss, outlining more details of his plan. That plan includes more mental health counselors and an expanded hotline to help soldiers in crisis.

President Obama also talked about sequestration, or government budget cuts. He called upon Congress to take action to prevent the cuts from taking effect. If Congress does not take action, the cuts will automatically kick in on January 2nd, slashing the federal defense budget by  upwards of $500 billion dollars.


Presidential Fun Facts: 

--His visit is not a campaign visit -- but the President will often visit 3 or even as many as four states in one day while campaigning.

-- The President travels a lot .... In 2010 President Obama flew in Air Force One 172 times, which averages out to almost every other day

-- This is President Obama's 3rd visit to El Paso since taking office. His 2nd to Fort Bliss.

-- The timing of this trip is significant -- it comes just a day after Republicans wrapped up their convention in Tampa , and three days before Democrats gather for their national convention President Obama isn't expected to win Texas, so this visit obviously is intended for a broader national - and international - audience.

-- This will - at least today -- put an emphasis on national security issues. National security issues usually play a major role in presidential campaigns, but this year, the focus thus far has been the economy The White House website gives prominent play to the issue, and the end of the war in Iraq -- labeling it "Promise Kept."

Airforce One Facts:

-- Air Force One isn't technically a plane. It's actually the call name for ANY U.S Air force plane carrying the President of the United States. If a president is on another plane -- that plane would become Air Force one. Or for example... if in an army helicopter it is then Army One.

--This plane has 4-thousand square feet of interior floor space. Onboard -- it looks more like a hotel or executive office than a jetliner, except for seatbelts on all the chairs. There are 3 decks. The lowest level of the plane mostly serves as cargo space. Most of the passenger room is on the middle level, and the upper level is largely dedicated to communications equipment.

--The president has onboard living quarters, with his own bedroom, bathroom, bedroom, and office space. There's even a small workout room.Most of the furniture on the plane was hand-crafted.

--The staff meets in a large conference room, which doubles as the president's dining room. Senior staff members have their own office area, and the rest of the president's staff also has space to work and relax.

--All in all Air Force One can carry 70 passengers and 26 crew members. Some of those passengers are reporters. There is a separate area for reporters traveling with the president.


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