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Biden discusses Iraq, vet health care

From NBC's Mark Murray
In a speech today at Fort Bragg, NC, Vice President Biden welcomed home members of the 18th Airborne Corps, praising their service and other U.S. soldiers in the audience. "You are the best trained. You are the bravest. You are the most conditioned. You are the best force America has ever assembled," he said.

Biden also discussed President Obama's trip to Iraq, as well as the administration's commitment to safely turn over the country's security to the Iraqis. "Because of all the work you've done, all the work our military has done, I am absolutely confident that the Iraqis are in a much better place to take responsibility for their own security."

He later added, "It's time that they do their responsibility, not militarily alone. It's time to reconcile their political differences so they can enjoy the peace that they say they want and do want in their land."

Moreover, Biden told the soldiers in the audience that the Obama administration submitted a budget increasing funding for veterans and vet health care. "We have a lot of obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation, and that's to care for those who we send to war, and to give them everything they need when they return."

He continued, "The best way to honor their memory, of those thousands -- over 14,000 seriously injured coming home from the wars which we are engaged in and have been engaged in -- we owe them the obligation to ... provide them the absolute best medical care and service they need."

Biden's remarks on veterans health care, however, come after the Obama administration initially proposed making veterans use private health-care insurance to pay for combat-related injuries, which they currently don't have to do. But after pressure from members of Congress and veterans groups, the administration dropped the proposal.

President Obama will hold an event tomorrow discussing military health care.

Also in his speech today, Biden referred to the service of his son, Beau, who is in Iraq. Talking about the sacrifices military families make, the vice president said, "So I want you to know I think Jill and I understand. I know my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren understand the sacrifices your family made. Jill and I proudly wear this blue star. We proudly wear it."