The veterans group is accustomed to playing host to the nation's most powerful people at its national conference. Obama addressed the VFW in 2009, followed by Vice President Biden in 2010.
But the 2-million strong VFW accused the administration of snubbing its members by not providing a "first-tier speaker" for the first time in VFW history.
"The VFW has had a long-standing tradition of inviting the sitting president to address our convention," Richard Eubank, national commander of the organization, said in a statement, adding that the White House typically chooses a "high-level administration official" to speak if the president cannot attend.
"It is an insult of the highest magnitude that for the first time in the history of the VFW, the White House has apparently decided that this great and iconic organization of combat veterans and all of its members are not worthy of its notice by not at least offering a first-tier speaker from the administration."
The senior administration official said the White House did offer several potential speakers, including U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. The Air Force pitched its secretary and chief of staff; the National Guard offered the Army National Guard director.
Obama did, however, find time in his busy schedule to speak to the American Legion conference in Minneapolis.
Recalling "those awful attacks," President Barack Obama saluted the 9/11 generation of veterans Tuesday and publicly relished the prospect of U.S. forces getting out of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"For our troops and military families who have sacrificed so much, this means relief from an unrelenting decade of operations," Obama said in remarks to the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis.
"Thanks to these Americans," he said, "we're moving forward from a position of strength."
Obama paid tribute to more than 6,200 Americans in uniform who have given their lives during the past decade of war. He enumerated military successes, including advances in Afghanistan , the killing of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and, most recently, assistance to Libyan rebels to help them push out strongman Moammar Gadhafi .
Do remember, as you listen to Obama reference the attacks of 9/11/01, that he was a member of Reverend Wright's church in Chicago. Wright famously proclaimed the 9/11 attacks as "chickens coming home to roost". He continued to proclaim Wright as his spiritual advisor up until the end of his presidential campaign when it became too uncomfortable for him to continue that claim in order to finish the race to the White House.
And, let's recall that in 2009 the Commander of the American Legion was "deeply disappointed" in the Obama plan to charge wounded warriors for their care.
The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.
"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."
The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This
reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate '... to care for him who shall have borne the battle...' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"
With politicians like Barack Obama, it is prudent to watch want he does, not what he says.