Obama vows justice in murder of American

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Obama vows justice in murder of American
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
President Barack Obama shakes hands with members of the North Carolina National Guard and their families after arriving at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base in Charlotte, N.C.,Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
President Barack Obama speaks about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Audience members listen as President Barack Obama speaks about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama greets veterans before he speaks about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, as he travels to Charlotte, N.C. to attend the American Legion’s 96th National Convention to speak about veterans issues. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama is greeted by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., left, who has criticized the Obama administration on veterans issues, as he arrives at North Carolina Air National Guard Base in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Obama is in Charlotte to address the American Legion’s 96th National Convention. At right is Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama waves as he leaves Air Force One after arriving at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
President Barack Obama jogs up the stairs of Air Force One prior to leaving from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, to speak at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama takes the stage before speaking about veterans issues at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Mourners pack Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic church during a special Mass for slain journalist James Foley in his hometown of Rochester, N.H., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Foley was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day 2012 while covering the Syrian uprising. The Islamic State group posted a Web video on Tuesday, Aug. 19, showing his killing and said it was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Candles are lighted on the town common during a vigil for James Foley in his hometown of Rochester, N.H., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Foley, a freelance journalist, was killed earlier in the week by Islamic State militants. He was abducted in November 2012 while covering fighting in Syria. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
A woman holds a candle during a vigil for James Foley in his hometown of Rochester, N.H., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Several hundred people attended and paid tribute to the freelance American journalist who was killed earlier in the week by Islamic State militants. Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering fighting in Syria. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
A yellow ribbon is tied to a tree outside the family home of freelance journalist James Foley, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 in Rochester, N.H. Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. On Tuesday, Aug. 19, militants with the Islamic State extremist group released a video showing Islamic State militants beheading Foley in an act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq . (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
US President Barack Obama speaks at the American Legion's 96th National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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By JIM KUHNHENN

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama says "America does not forget" and is vowing justice for the murder of an American journalist.

The president said the country continues to grieve James Foley, killed last week by Islamic State militants.

Obama called the killers "barbaric terrorists." He signaled that a response may take some time.

He said - quote - "Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won't be easy and it won't be quick."

But he said America is patient and "justice will be done."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Three months after a veterans' health care scandal rocked his administration, President Barack Obama is taking executive action to improve the mental well-being of veterans. The president was to announce his initiatives during an appearance before the American Legion National Convention that is fraught with midterm politics.

The president's address to the legionnaires Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the latest administration response to the health care lapses that led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in May.

The White House says Obama will announce administration steps to strengthen access to mental health care by members of the military, to improve the transition for those leaving the military from care administered by the Defense Department to that run by Veterans Affairs, and to foster suicide prevention and better treatments for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

For Obama, however, the visit to North Carolina has a heavy political subtext as well. The state's Democratic senator, Kay Hagan, is in a difficult re-election race and Obama is not popular in the state.

Still, while some other Democratic candidates have shied away from photo ops with the president, Hagan greeted Obama as he stepped off Air Force One and the president gave her a peck on the cheek. Hagan was scheduled to speak to the American Legion too, but her spokeswoman declined to say whether she would appear on stage with the president.

The campaign of Hagan's Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, accused Hagan of being a "rubber stamp" for Obama and "compliant with the administration's failure to provide our veterans with the health care that they deserve."

Eager to distance herself from the president, Hagan issued a statement Friday ahead of the Legion convention saying the administration "has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans."

Obama press secretary Josh Earnest responded that Hagan is an "independent voice."

"She hasn't always agreed with President Obama on a range of issues, but Senator Hagan has demonstrated that she is a dedicated advocate on behalf of veterans," he told reporters traveling Aboard Air Force One to North Carolina.

Obama also could face a skeptical audience for his speech. In a July Associated Press-GfK poll, Obama's approval rating among veterans and veterans' households lagged behind his overall approval rating at just 33 percent, with 66 percent disapproving.

Obama's address to the veterans also comes as his administration considers whether to confront Islamic State militants by taking military action against them in Syria. U.S. officials said Monday that Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, and a third said they have already begun, a move that could pave the way for U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets in that country.

Earnest said Obama was not likely to offer any details about his policy in the region.

Earlier this month, Obama signed a $16.3 billion law aimed at easing the long waits that tens of thousands of military veterans had endured to get medical care.

The law, a product of rare bipartisanship in the House and Senate, followed reports of veterans dying while awaiting appointments to see VA doctors and of a widespread practice of employees covering up months-long wait times for appointments. In some cases, employees received bonuses based on falsified records.

The VA says investigators have found no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at a VA hospital in Phoenix.

Moving beyond the steps included in the law, the White House said Obama intended to take executive actions that:

- Automatically enroll military personnel who are receiving care for mental health conditions and are leaving the service in a program that transfers them to a new care team in the VA.

- Undertake a study designed to detect whether people show signs of being vulnerable to suicide or post-traumatic stress syndrome.

- Spends $34.4 million in a VA suicide prevention study and about $80 million on a program to treat diseases, including post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The White House says Obama also will announce a partnership with lenders such as Wells Fargo Bank, CitiMortgage, Bank of America, Ocwen Loan Servicing and Quicken Loans to make it easier for active-duty service members to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions.

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