President Barack Obama marked the second anniversary of the end of the US combat mission in Iraq by calling Saturday for "nation-building" back in the United States as it battles a slumping economy.
The president declared an end to US combat operations in Iraq on August 31, 2010 after a seven-year war. All US forces returned home at the end of last year.
"As we turn the page on a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home," Obama said in his weekly address.
He praised the skills, discipline and leadership of American veterans, and vowed to better reward them for their service through improved access to jobs and housing.
"No one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home," he said.
"It's time to build a nation that lives up to the ideals that so many Americans have fought for -- a nation where they can realize the dream they sacrificed to protect."
The president called for putting veterans back to work by rebuilding the country's aging infrastructure and electrical grid, as well as by boosting the ranks of police and firefighters.
The president made his political name opposing the Iraq war even before he was elected to the Senate in 2004, and regards bringing US troops home as the fulfillment of one of his core political promises.
His decision will feature prominently next week in three days of speeches and events culminating in his acceptance of the Democratic Party nomination as he seeks a second term in the White House in November.
Polls show that Obama's foreign policy performance is one of his strongest credentials as he asks voters for re-election, even as Republicans accuse him of weakness abroad and of presiding over an erosion of US power.