tv Director Jonathan Jarvis Discusses National Parks Service Centennial CSPAN August 2, 2016 3:28am-4:30am EDT
but the heart of it is the koch brothers for the koch brothers do not want the possibility of a 5-4 reversal of citizens united. that is where they are controlling the influence of the majority in the u.s. senate in a way that it is hard to envision any other special interest having such control of the institution. worried will be very that the next president, if the next president is fully clinton -- hillary clinton that she may won't besomebody who described -- someone who is more progressive on fighting for environment and social and human justice. so there is a real possibility that after the election they will advocate their argument and him easily move to try to confirm merrick garland.
>> thank you. we know what we need to do. we have a few minutes remaining and i'm wondering if any of you have some questions. yes. maybe say who you are and where you are from. that gentleman first and then you. take it away. games, i united with wanted to ask about judicial diversity. i was disappointed that the president did not nominate a percent color but i was disappointed and the legal background of the justices we have. all at the harvard or yale except for justice ginsburg and
what the columbia. no one has any background in immigration law. as law school, is an elective. they don't have background in criminal defense or legal issues that must be boldface in the country. i wanted to hear your perspective on why is that? during the oral argument, i was infuriated that some of the progress of justices has zero clue about immigration law and most people do not even use the right terminology. >> that is an excellent question. supremeshould the next court justices have in their legal expenses and had we get to experiences and how do we get to that? >> i hope they have a jb and intersection analogy. intersectionality. the bad news is you are right. our current judicial system is so white-mail corporate law.
that is exactly what it is. in order to be a judge it seems like there is a secret tractor parts you to have worked at law irms and that is the weight am as an attorney but i could never be a judge because i'm a woman, of color, i work in public interest. that is the fate. we need to change that and i would to think that i could change that. currently with the wait is, it is always corporate lawyers, very rarely public interest lawyers who can make it and i think the system starts again, going back to the district and circuit court would pick us up in court judges from. a -- to pay more attention to the lawyer towards and think of lawyers we know it puts to import to commission and the state. every state has their own commission system where they vet different lawyers to be judges and make sure we are being active in that conversation
which is something as a society we always think, we leave that to the lawyers to figure out. and it is not true. just like state courts have judicial elections, federal court system has a way of getting the vault and suggesting to our senators, what about this lawyer, what about this lawyer? this is a great divers layer that has a unique ground and really have in that conversation to make sure they are in the commission as well. comment? else want to that since the republicans took control of the u.s. senate, the majority, we months,ing about 19 they have confirmed only 17 judges. in the year before that they and so whilejudges i was taking a packing the court at the supreme court level, it is a strategy to completely minimize the number of judges
confirmed under president obama and hope that there would be a president within our -- with an r by the name to the courts with right-wing folks. progress in some that november, 2013, i and jennifer and interpretation in the road to put it that simple majority so that they could not be filibustered at the district level and circuit court level. that led to the 96 judges been confirmed the following year. now they being stopped at the committee level from ever getting to the floor. situation andle hopefully will soon have a senate and president will rectify that. >> i like him i do have something. support progressive organizations that actually did the advocacy to educate lawyers and training.
there's an organization called how.e it used to be called law student from reproductive justice. what they do is have chapters on law school campuses to ensure the law students understand fight for intersection analogy -- intersectionality and how the fight for reproductive rights intertwined with the fight for economic justice and immigration rights. it is all the fight for bodily autonomy and so even if those lawyers then don't go into public interest and going to corporate law, they still have an analysis to understand what their organization, the company might be doing, how come if they put a plate in an area, how that is actually environmental injustice and going to affect the reproductive right in a
tommy of the people living in the community and really start to have that analysis. if we support organizations like that because about the corporate right but they have a progressive and intersectional analysis and they get on the supreme court. >> the only thing i would add, this is an issue of great atcern to us and we looked june -- every judge appointed by president obama and found or revealed that overwhelmingly that judges were either corporate lawyers are prosecutors. almost no criminal defense lawyers, no public defenders, no legal services, no public interest lawyers. no environmental lawyers. since that study has been out, there have been some changes
that have been made, but that is a huge priority for us and i'm so happy that you raised it because it should be a priority for all of us. i might add that it is not that president obama was not open to appointing a wider diversity, but the challenge was the process of the judiciary committee in the senate, the senators some states can block the judges and up until we did november, two thousand 13, we had to get 60 votes to pass a judge so the only judges that were getting through were once that made the republican corporate world happy and that was a systematic, corruption of the balance of the court system so we have to rectify this. we have to have broad diversity on the courts to have anything close to a true justice system. >> we have time for one more
question. i think it is you. you have been here before. glad to see you again. >> i'm from above the law. i was good to ask about your study so i will quickly follow up, there's a whole issue about trying to get the white house to select judges who have these different backgrounds. you also find that it is hard to recruit people to want to go into that process with the background. rich corporate lawyers are fine financially and it is ok for them to go be a judge. you have trouble recruiting people were d got recruiting people to put the names in the hat to be a judge? >> i will be court and somebody else. i was talking to a woman who --te the book of the tories notorious rbg.
the life and times of prebeta ginsburg. -- ruth bader ginsburg. she was saying that there's a lot of systemic things in place that just like it is hard to get women and people of color to run for office, yet to ask them multiple times and the systems are not set up that way, it is the same thing. they have to be asked over and over again. that it was around the clerk system so if you look at the justices when they are deciding who they want to clerk, they are doing this, they're picking people who look just like them and so the justices are white men, they will say,, looks just like me. come on up and be my card. clerk. it is one of those think that we have to impacted both when they
and we have tool check the systems of who can even get into law school to even be there. it is so expensive and how is it that people who are in communities of color are even going to get their? quality public school life and things to a scholarship to a masters degree at cornell and it was a culture shock and an economic shock and a great middle class. it is a whole system that we actually need to abandon and foot over -- put over because it is designed to give people like me out. -- keep people like me out. [applause] >> that brings us to a close of this wonderful amazing panel. thank you all. what a treat to have you all. i will end with this, thank you all for coming as well.
poll and i know that we talk about good news and bad news, but the good news is that compared to previous election years, or people are paying attention to the supreme 20 orhis year than in 30 years. that is great news. say, i'm just kind of building on what everyone else has said, the more we can reach out to our friends, our colleagues, activists, parents, grandparents and say this is the most important election of our life because we are not just voting for president, we are voting for the court. we have a lot of work to do. we will roll up our sleeves and do it. thank you all. i know this crowd will do it.
>> on c-span, we will bring you the remarks from the father of the muslim american army captain who was killed while serving in iraq. in his speech monday, president obama's said services for veterans are improving but more work needs to be done. after that, we will hear from the prime minister of singh of or who is in washington this week. singaporeinister of who is in washington this week. did you miss any of the republican or democratic national conventions? go to c-span.org to catch every minute. at the top of the c-span.org thepage, click on either
republican or the democratic national convention where you will find videos from each day of each convention. you can scroll down and browse through every speaker, click on any speech you would like to watch. c-span.org is your most comprehensive guide for finding video of any convention moment. c-span, created by cable, offered by a public service by your television provider. --zero con talks about his son, khan talks about his who died in iraq. he was critical of donald trump. he was joined onstage by his wife. [applause] khanrase welcome
like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. we believed in american democracy, that with hard work and goodness of this country we contribute to and its blessings. blessed to raise our nation where a they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams. [applause] son in my own head had dreams also. dreams of being a military he put those dreams the day he sacrificed his
party leadership. walls and bandld usfrom this country -- ban from this country. >> boo! : you're asking americans to trust you with your future -- their future, let me ask you, have you even read the united states constitution? [cheers] you my copy. lednnd [cheers] in this document look for the words, look for the words
liberty and equal protection of law. [cheers] ever been to arlington cemetery? look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the united states of america. aiths,ll see all face -- f genders, ethnicities. [cheers] you have sacrificed nothing. [cheers] , we cannot solve our problems by building walls. sowing division, we are stronger together. [cheers] and we will keep getting
stronger when hillary clinton becomes our president. [cheers] in conclusion, i ask every patriotic american, all muslim ,mmigrants, and all immigrants do not take this election lightly. [cheers] this is a historic election and i request to honor the sacrifice of my family and on election day , take the time to get out and vote and vote for the healer. vote for the strongest, most qualified candidate, hillary clinton. [cheers] not the divided.
[cheers] god bless you. [cheers] ♪ >> president obama said the u.s. has improved services for military veterans but work needs to be down. was also critical of gop presidential candidate donald trump over his comments of the family of a muslim american army captain that was killed. he spoke at a veterans event. >> good afternoon. guests and especially my
fellow veterans, families, and survivors. our 26th president, commander in chief theater roosevelt, a seasoned soldier and a rough rider understood the importance of honoring the sacrifice of service. he said that anyone who is good enough to shed blood for our country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. therefore, it is indeed a privilege and a great honor to have been asked to introduce this afternoon's most distinguished guest at dav's 95th national convention. the current president, the first lady, and his administration have taken the words of president roosevelt to action. president barack obama's leadership and steadfast commitment to our nations heroes is a matter of public record. he is demonstrated that
the strong supporter of our nations veterans and their families. he has fought for the resources and the reforms the v.a. needs to keep its promise to the men and women who have so valiantly served. he has proven hence health willing to listen to our points of view on vital veterans issues. but more importantly, he actually has taken our views to heart. he used them to make pivotal policy changes on the many dav key priorities. . one of the integral areas is increased funding and advanced appropriations for veterans a focus onuding improving services are the signature wounds of today's wars such as traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. itsident obama has also made
a priority to extend and improve health care in one of the fastest-growing segments of the veteran population, women's that -- women veterans. and targeted suicide prevention programs. under his leadership, the va has also reduce the disability claims backlog that keeps over 600,000 to less than 100,000 toy. [applause] he has taken on veteran employment signing about to hire heroes act offering tax credits to businesses hiring unemployed veterans and extending vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits for disabled veterans. lastly, he has erected on president of support from most bottled brothers and sisters
which resulted in the short decrease in veteran homelessness. , it is my gentlemen distinct honor to introduce our ally,l guest and fierce the 44th president of the united states, barack obama. [applause] >> thank you, dav! thank you so much! [applause] a seat.everybody, have what an honor to be with you today. [applause] bobby, i would never forget the time bobby came to the oval office carrying a baseball bat.
secret service got a little nervous. it was a genuine louisville slugger. i thank you for going to bat for our veterans and i want to thank bobby for your devotion to our veterans. thank you. give bobby a big round of applause. [cheers] i love you back. [cheers] i will to thank our outstanding leadership team for welcoming me today, including national commander moses mcintosh. [applause] senior vice commander dave riley. [cheers] national adjutant mark burgess. [cheers] director barry. [cheers]
your voice in washington, gary augustine. [cheers] forget, all the spouses and families of the dag auxiliary -- dav auxiliary. [cheers] thank you for welcoming us to the great state of georgia and the beautiful city of atlanta. [cheers] our pleased to be joined by secretary of va bob mcdonnell. [cheers] hard,working hard, everything the day. the transfer that v.a. to serve our veterans better. he still gets out his cell phone number and e-mail. not many people know this, that he has received more than 45,000 calls, e-mails and texts. i don't know what his bundle is
looking like, i hope he has a teamplan but bob and his worked to deal with each one of but bob and his team work to deal with each one of those texts or emails or phone calls he receives because every single veteran matters. and he knows that. so, thank you, bob, for the great work you're doing. so it's good to be back with the disabled american veterans. what a journey that we've had together. we worked together back when i was a senator. you were one of the first veterans' organizations i called when i ran for president. i welcomed you to the white house as a partner. i came to your convention in my first term, and my second, along with michelle. and so it is fitting that my final major address to our nation's veterans as president is here at the dav.
[applause] and as i reflect on these past eight years, some of the most unforgettable experiences that i've had have been moments i've spent with you -- america's veterans and your families. we stood together at arlington to honor corporal frank buckles, 110 years old -- our last veteran from the first world war -- as he was laid to rest. i ordered our flags to be flown at half-staff because, even after 100 years, we will never stop saluting those who served in our name. [applause] we stood together at normandy to thank an entire generation -- among them, my grandfather, who was in patton's army -- a generation that literally saved the world.
there was harry kulkowitz, who returned to the beaches he helped liberate -- and told he could have anything he wanted, said with the humility of a soldier, a hamburger will do just fine. [laughter] i think of luta mcgrath -- this past veterans day, just before her 108th birthday, then the oldest known female veteran of world war ii, which was a reminder that women have always served to keep america strong and free. we've stood together at the memorial to our korean war veterans and recalled how a soldier, marching through the snow, had a tiny pair of baby booties hanging from his rifle -- a reminder of his unborn child -- a story that had been lost to history.
but we tracked him down. we found him. and we shared the story of korean war veteran dick shank, who made it home to that baby boy, and lived out his life -- at 84 years old, he was still roller skating -- because no war should ever be forgotten and no veteran should ever be overlooked. we've stood together at the wall and remembered the lessons of vietnam -- that even when americans may disagree about a war, we have to stand united in support of our troops. and that for mothers like sarah shay, who honored her missing son for more than 40 years, we will never stop working to bring home our prisoners of war and our missing in action. we leave nobody behind. no one.
and we've come together to welcome our newest veterans into your ranks -- from desert storm, the balkans, afghanistan, and iraq -- our proud 9/11 generation. this is a time of transition. when i came into office, we had nearly 180,000 american troops in afghanistan and iraq. today, that number is less than 15,000. most of our troops have come home. [applause] to all of you who served in afghanistan, you can take enormous pride in the progress you helped achieve, driving al qaeda out of its camps. toppling the taliban. delivering justice to osama bin laden. helping afghans improve their lives. there are millions of boys and girls in school, and democratic elections and a democratic government. training afghan forces to take responsibility for their own
security so that we are no longer engaged in a major ground war in afghanistan. that is your legacy. and today we salute our forces serving there on a more limited mission -- supporting afghan forces, going after terrorists -- because we must never allow afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again. to all of you who served in iraq, we saw your heroism in pushing out a dictator whose brutality must be condemned, never praised. in defeating an insurgency. in giving the iraqi people a chance. and no matter what has happened since, your valor in the deserts, in fierce urban combat, will be honored in the annals of military history. let me say something else about this generation. as commander-in-chief, i'm pretty tired of some folks
trash-talking america's military and troops. [cheers] our military is somewhat smaller -- after two major ground wars come to a close, that's natural. and we're going to keep doing everything we need to do to improve readiness and modernize our forces. but let's get some facts straight. america's army is the best-trained, best-equipped land force on the planet. our navy is the largest and most lethal in the world. the precision of, and reach of, our air force is unmatched. our marines are the world's only truly expeditionary force.
we have the world's finest coast guard. we have the most capable fighting force in history -- and we're going to keep it that way. and no ally or adversary should ever doubt our strength and our resolve. and we will keep pounding isil and taking out their leaders, and pushing them back on the ground. and united with a global coalition, we will destroy this barbaric terrorist group. they will be destroyed. in the face of russian aggression, we're not going to turn our back to our allies in europe. we're going to stay united in nato, which is the world's strongest alliance. from the asia pacific to africa to the americas, the united states and our armed forces will remain the greatest force for freedom and security and peace that the world has ever known.
that is your legacy. that is what we have to protect, and that is what we have to defend. and let me say this. no one -- no one -- has given more for our freedom and our security than our gold star families. michelle and i have spent countless hours with them. we have grieved with them. there's a reason why, last week in philadelphia, i was humbled to be introduced by sharon belkofer from ohio, a gold star mom whose son, tom, a lieutenant colonel in the army, gave his life in afghanistan. i requested sharon to introduce me, because i understood that our gold star families have made a sacrifice that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.
they represent the very best of our country. they continue to inspire us every day, every moment. they serve as a powerful reminder of the true strength of america. we have to do everything we can for those families, and honor them, and be humbled by them. dav, i know that your service has also been defined by another battle. this is a group that understands sacrifice. you've been defined by the battle here at home to persevere through wounds and disabilities. i think of a veteran from iraq who lost her arm but who said she decided to focus "not on what i had lost, but on what i
still had." i see that same spirit in you. maybe it was there in the hospital bed, fighting for your life, you learned what it really means to have faith. maybe it was during rehab, learning how to live without a leg, or both, you learned what it really means to persevere. about a month ago, i went to walter reed -- i do this periodically -- and was in the rehab unit watching some of these folks work out. and i decided -- you might have seen this -- i was doing some pushups with them and -- (laughter) -- trying to keep up with them. and i was sweating and getting all tired. they took it easy on me. but it gave me a sense of -- just a small sense of what perseverance really means. maybe it was during the night when the memories came rushing back -- and you summoned the courage to reach out and get help and stay strong. and i was proud to help
recognize your patriotism and resilience in the heart of our nation's capital when we dedicated the american veterans disabled for life memorial. this organization shows us, shows this nation, what it means to be strong. but as strong as you are -- and nobody is stronger than our disabled vets -- i know you didn't make this journey alone. you're here because of the love and support of your families and your caregivers and your neighbors and your communities and your fellow veterans. [applause] they were the shoulder you leaned on, who carried you when you couldn't walk, who picked you up when you stumbled, who celebrated your victories with you, who sometimes just made you laugh and reminded you how good life can be.
and that brings me to what i want to talk about here today. for more than two centuries, this country that we love hasn't just endured. we have thrived. we have overcome challenges that would have broken a lesser nation. and not thanks to any one person or one group of people, but because, like you learned in the military, we're all one team. we believe in taking care of each other, and in lifting each other up, and leaving no one behind, and in meeting the collective responsibilities that we can only meet together. the security of our nation. the education for our children. dignity for our seniors. equal rights for all of our citizens. health care -- which is now a right for everybody. and the care and well-being of our veterans and your families. that is a responsibility for all of us, not just a few. we all have to do our part.
and as i've said before, america's commitment to our veterans is not just lines in a budget. and it can't be about politics. it's not even really about policy. our commitment to our veterans is a sacred covenant. and i don't use those words lightly. it is sacred because there's no more solemn request than to ask someone to risk their life, to be ready to give their life on our behalf. it's a covenant because both sides have responsibilities. those who put on the uniform, you took an oath to protect and defend us.
while the rest of us, the citizens you kept safe, we pledged to take care of you and your families when you come home. that's a sacred covenant. that's a solemn promise that we make to each other. and it is binding. and upholding it is a moral imperative. and at times, our nation has not always upheld this covenant. our vietnam vets, they sure know this. when you came home, you deserved better. veterans who at times have struggled to get care at the va, you deserve better, too. if there's ever a breach in the covenant, then leaders in this country have to work hard to regain trust. that's what bob and so many hardworking people at the va are doing. but upholding this covenant has to be the work of all of us. it's not just the va's job.
it's everybody's job. government has to deliver the care and benefits and support that you have earned. veteran service organizations have to hold us accountable and be our partners, like the 1.3 million members of the dav are doing every day. and citizens have to step up, too -- which is why michelle and dr. jill biden, through joining forces, have rallied the american people to honor and support our military families and our veterans. now, we've got a lot more work to do. but working together over these past eight years, we've delivered real progress for our veterans. and we can't let up. it's not a reason for complacency, but we should understand that when we really put our sweat and tears and put our shoulder to the wheel, we can make things better. about 200,000 servicemembers are becoming veterans every single
year. and america is going to have to be there for you for a lifetime in five important ways. number one, we have to keep fighting for the resources you need. now, since i took office, we've made historic increases in veterans funding -- the biggest boost in decades. that's a fact. and i've proposed another increase for next year. so altogether, during my presidency, we will have increased funding for veterans by more than 85%. with advance appropriations, we're protecting veterans' health care from the annual washington budget battles. but i do have to point this out -- republicans in congress have proposed cutting my va budget. and when they return in the fall, they should pass the budget our veterans need -- and fund it, fully. don't just talk about standing
with veterans. don't just talk about me. do something to support our veterans. that's what you need to do. number two, we've got to keep fighting to deliver the health care you've been promised. today, more of our vietnam vets are getting your disability benefits because of your exposure to agent orange. that's a change that we made. so, too, for our desert storm veterans, because of the illnesses tied to the gulf war. those are changes we made. altogether, we've made va benefits available to more than 2 million veterans who didn't have them before. sometimes -- let's face it, sometimes folks don't know that, but it's a fact.
and i have to say, thanks to the affordable care act -- obamacare -- veterans not covered by the va now have access to quality, affordable health care. and insurance companies can't discriminate against you because of preexisting conditions like post-traumatic stress. and more veterans are gaining access to health insurance. so we need to keep making it easier to access care. that's why we recruited some of the best talent from silicon valley and the private sector. and in one of their first innovations, veterans can now finally apply for va health care anytime, anywhere, from any device, including your smartphone -- simple, easy, in as little as 20 minutes. just go to vets.gov. the days of having to wait in line at a va office, or mailing it in -- those days are over. we're finally moving into the 21st century when it comes to
helping our veterans. it's about time. we're reaching more veterans, including rural veterans, with telemedicine -- so you can see someone at the va without leaving your home. we now have a designated women's health provider at all va clinics to make sure our women's veterans get the tailored care, and the dignity and the respect that you deserve. and for our disabled vets, we have increased funds for prosthetics, eliminated co-pays if you're catastrophically disabled, made progress on concurrent receipt so more severely disabled retirees can now receive your military retired pay and your va disability benefits. and we're doing more than ever to make sure your devoted
families and caregivers get the skills and support they need to stay strong as well. and here, i want to thank veterans across our country for being part of another mission -- our precision medicine initiative to revolutionize health care with treatments that are tailored for each patient. as of today, more than 500,000 veterans -- maybe some of you -- have stepped forward and donated your health and genetic data for research, which brings us halfway to our goal of one million veterans that are doing so. and what this does is it gives us a better understanding of genetics, which will allow us to improve treatments for things like traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, and diabetes, and cancer. and that won't just help veterans. it will help all americans. and it's just one more example of how our veterans keep serving our country even after they come home. [applause] we need to keep improving mental health care.
i'll never forget the soldiers i met at fort bliss. they were proud of their service, but they were struggling with issues like post-traumatic stress. so, for veterans with pts, we made it easier for you to qualify for the va care that you need -- no matter when you served. we've increased funding for veterans mental health care by more than 75%, billions more dollars. more awareness and outreach -- because we have to end any shame or stigma that comes with going and getting help. we've put in place more clinicians, more counselors, more peer support -- veterans helping veterans. more research -- $100 million for new approaches to pts and tbi. and today, we're delivering more mental health care to more veterans than ever. we are saving lives.
[applause] but when too many veterans still aren't getting the care that they need, we all have to be outraged. we all have to do better. and when 20 veterans a day are taking their own lives -- that is a national tragedy. we all have to do better. most of those 20 vets taking their lives each day are not in the va. but we know that when vets do get va care, they're more likely to survive. so we need to get more vets connected to the va. and when you have an urgent need for mental health care, you shouldn't have to wait days, you shouldn't have to wait weeks -- you should get those services the very same day. and congress can help by providing the funding and flexibility we need to hire highly qualified mental health professionals. and medical schools can help us
recruit and train more psychiatrists. and every american, military and civilian, can help, as well, by learning those five signs that somebody is hurting, so we can reach out and help our veterans stay strong. we're one team. one american family. when any member of our family is suffering, we've got to be there for each other. now, we also need to keep fixing the problems that came to light -- long wait times, veterans denied care, people manipulating the books -- inexcusable. i know bob gave you an update, but i want to repeat -- we've hired thousands more doctors, nurses, staff, opened more clinical space. and, with the choice program, we're helping more veterans get care outside of the va. it all adds up to millions more appointments, delivering more benefits to more veterans than ever before. that is progress. but even as we improve access, more veterans than ever are seeking care. so we're putting more and more
resources in, but you've got more and more demand for care at the same time. and this surge in demand means there are now more veterans waiting for appointments, even though we've done a lot more. so i know i'm not satisfied. bob is still not satisfied. and we will not let up. bob and his new leadership team are going to keep pushing to transform the va, and he will keep holding people accountable. this is somebody who cares deeply about our veterans getting what they deserve and what they have earned. and when whistleblowers expose misconduct, they need to be protected, not punished. we need congress to make it easier for the va to help veterans get care in your communities. but i have to say -- here's one thing i want to be very clear about -- here's one thing we will not do. we cannot outsource and privatize health care for
america's veterans. now, there are folks who keep pushing this. they don't always come out and say the word "privatize," but you read what they say, that's what they mean. and these radical proposals would begin to dismantle the va health care system that millions of veterans depend on every day. and that would hurt veterans. study after study shows that in many areas, like mental health, the quality of care at the va is often better than in private care. so let's listen to our veterans, who are telling us don't destroy , va health care. fix it and make it work, but don't break our covenant with our veterans. this brings me to the third area where we have to stay focused.
we have to keep cutting the disability claims backlog. now, from its peak, we've slashed that backlog by nearly 90%. my chief of staff and i -- there was a chunk of time when that backlog was high where, every day, no matter what else was happening around the world, he and i, we'd take these walks around the south lawn just to keep our exercise, keep our steps up. and every day, we talked about, how are we going to get that backlog down. and each week, we'd look and see what kind of progress we're making. that's how we reduced it by 90 %. the backlog is now lower than when i came into office, even though there are a lot more people who are eligible for claims. and claims decisions are more accurate the first time. and on both these fronts, we're keeping at it. but as we all know, when
veterans appeal a decision, you're put into an appeals system that right now is broken. and you shouldn't have to fight for years to get a straight answer. now, we've proposed major reforms, and i want to thank the dav and all the other veterans' groups for raising your voice on this. we've got to keep up the pressure. congress needs to pass comprehensive reform of the claims appeals process,because if we don't fix the appeals process, even when we get the backlog down on the original claim, too many folks are waiting on the backend. we've got to fix it. and we can. but we're going to have to push congress. and i don't know if you've noticed, that's hard.
fourth, we've got to keep fighting for the dignity of every veteran. and that includes ending the tragedy, the travesty of veterans' homelessness. this is something that, within my administration, we've said this is all hands on deck, across government. everybody has got to be involved in this. and with joining forces, michelle and jill have helped galvanize hundreds of mayors and communities across the country. two states, virginia and connecticut, as well as 27 cities and towns across the country have effectively ended veteran homelessness. so, today, i can announce that, nationally, we have now reduced
the number of homeless veterans by 47% nearly half. , we have just about cut veterans' homelessness in half. we've helped bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets. but we're not slowing down. we're going to keep up the momentum. this fall, michelle will bring our partners from across the country together at the white house to share best practices to figure out what has worked, what hasn't worked. because we will not stop until every veteran who fought for america has a home in america. this is something we've got to get done. and finally, we've got to keep fighting to give our troops and veterans and your families every opportunity to live the american dream that you helped defend. with our overh