We have focused resources on the veterans who need it most, those with service-related disabilities and low incomes and special needs. We've established a new scheduling system to make certain that veterans seeking care for a service-connected condition are first in line. For more than a century, federal law prohibited disabled veterans from receiving both their military retired pay and their VA disability compensation. Combat-injured and severely disabled veterans deserve better. I was proud to be the first President in over 100 years to sign concurrent receipt legislation. We're getting the job done in Washington, D.C.
My administration has launched a $35 million program to provide housing and health care and other support services to homeless veterans. No veteran who served in the blazing heat or bitter cold of foreign lands should have to live without shelter, exposed to the elements, in the very country whose freedom they fought for.
We are modernizing VA health centers, and building new ones, especially in the South and West, where increasing numbers of our veterans live. Since 2001, we have opened 194 new community-based clinics nationwide. And through the CARES initiative, we are providing $1 billion -- and have requested another half-billion for next year -- to modernize VA facilities, and to provide better care for veterans in areas where the need is growing, including here in Ohio.
Our VA hospitals are, on average, 50 years old. That's why we are modernizing our facilities to make sure our veterans have 21st century health care. For example, here in Ohio, we're building one of the largest new VA clinics in America in Columbus, Ohio. We're spending more than $100 million to consolidate two VA hospitals in Cleveland into a single 21st century facility. When it comes to providing first-class care for our nation's veterans, we are getting the job done.
Our nation's debt extends not just to the veterans who served, but to the families who supported them in war and depend on them today. Last December, I signed the Veterans Benefits Act, authorizing $1 billion in new and expanded benefits for disabled veterans, and surviving spouses and their children.
America's veterans have defended America in hours of need. And to honor the veterans from the Second World War for their service to our country, the World War II Memorial now stands on the Washington Mall. And I thank you for your efforts and your hard work to get this memorial built. And we honor all of those here today who fought to defend freedom in the Second World War.
Like the Second World War, the war we face today began with a ruthless, surprise attack on America. The world changed on that September morning. And since that day, we have changed the world. Before September the 11th, Afghanistan served as the home base of al Qaeda, which trained and deployed thousands of killers to set up terrorist cells around the world, including our own country. Because we acted, Afghanistan is a rising democracy; Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror; Afghanistan is now a place where many young girls go to school for the first time. America and the world are safer.
Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Today, because America and our allies sent a clear and strong message, the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. America and the world are safer.
Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued and he had used weapons of mass destruction. – less – More from ZoomInfo »