Tag Archives: Veterans Day

President Obama observes Veterans Day, 11/11/13

THE PRESIDENT:

“Today, we gather once more to honor patriots who have rendered the highest service any American can offer this nation — those who fought for our freedom and stood sentry for our security. On this hillside of solemn remembrance and in veterans’ halls and in proud parades across America, we join as one people to honor a debt we can never fully repay….

They fought on a green at Lexington so that we could make independent the country they imagined. They fought on the fields of Gettysburg so that we could make whole a nation torn asunder. They fought on the beaches of Europe and across Pacific islands. And from their sacrifice we emerged the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. And this year, as we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the fighting in Korea, we pay special tribute to all those who served in the Korean War….

On tour after tour after tour, in Iraq and Afghanistan, this generation — the 9/11 Generation — has met every mission we have asked of them. And today we can say that because of their heroic service, the core of al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, our nation is more secure, and our homeland is safer.

They’re men and women like the soldier — and soon to be veteran — I met a few months ago, Jacare Hogan. Jacare deployed to Iraq twice, and she survived not one, but two –- excuse me, three separate IED explosions. And when she was well enough, she deployed again, this time to Afghanistan, where she was often the only woman at our forward operating bases. She proudly wears the Combat Action Badge. And today, Jacare is committed to helping other wounded warriors recover from the trials of war. “Helping the troops,” she says, “is what I’m all about.” My fellow Americans, that’s what we should be all about.

Our work is more urgent than ever, because this chapter of war is coming to an end. Soon, one of the first Marines to arrive in Afghanistan 12 years ago — Brigadier General Daniel Yoo — will lead his Camp Pendleton Marines as they become one of the last major groups of Marines to deploy in this war. And over the coming months, more of our troops will come home. This winter, our troop levels in Afghanistan will be down to 34,000. And by this time next year, the transition to Afghan-led security will be nearly complete. The longest war in American history will end. (Applause.)

As is true after every conflict, there is a risk that the devoted service of our veterans could fade from the forefront of our minds; that we might turn to other things. But part of the reason we’re here today is to pledge that we will never forget the profound sacrifices that are made in our name. Today reminds us of our sacred obligations. For even though this time of war is coming to a close, our time of service to our newest veterans has only just begun….

And that’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I’m going to keep making sure we’re providing unprecedented support to our veterans. (Applause.) Even as we make difficult fiscal choices as a nation, we’re going to keep making vital investments in our veterans. We’re going to keep improving veterans’ health care, including mental health care so you can stay strong. We’re making sure that veterans not covered by the VA can secure quality, affordable health insurance.

We’re going to keep reducing the claims backlog. We’ve slashed it by a third since March, and we’re going to keep at it so you can get the benefits that you have earned and that you need, when you need them. (Applause.) We’re going to keep helping our newest veterans and their families pursue their education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We just welcomed our one millionth student veteran, and we’re ready for all those who come next.

And we’re going to keep demanding that the rights and dignity of every veteran are upheld, including by pushing for the Disabilities Treaty so that our disabled veterans enjoy the same opportunities to travel and work and study around the world as everybody else. (Applause.) And with the help of Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden and Joining Forces, we’re going to keep fighting to give every veteran who has fought for America the chance to pursue the American Dream — a fair shot at the jobs and opportunity you need to help us rebuild and grow here at home. Because you’re bringing home the skills and the work ethic and leadership necessary to start companies and serve your communities and take care of your fellow veterans.

And that’s our promise to you and all who have served: to be there, to support you, when you come home — every step of the way. And as a nation, we will strive to be worthy of the sacrifices that you’ve made. That’s what we owe all our veterans. That’s what we owe veterans like Richard Overton, who served in the Army in World War II. He was there, at — (applause) — now, everybody, I want you to know a little something about Mr. Overton here. He was there at Pearl Harbor, when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, “I only got out of there by the grace of God.”

When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race. And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high. He carried on and lived his life with honor and dignity. He built his wife a house with his own two hands. He went back to work in the furniture business. In time, he served as a courier in the Texas State Capitol, where he worked for four governors, and made more friends than most of us do in a lifetime.

And today, Richard still lives in the house that he built all those years ago. He rakes his own lawn. And every Sunday he hops in his 1971 Ford truck and drives one of the nice ladies in his neighborhood to church. (Laughter and applause.) This is the life of one American veteran — living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free.

And earlier this year, the great folks at Honor Flight Austin brought Richard to Washington, D.C. for the first time. And he and his fellow veterans paid their respects at the World War II Memorial. And then they visited the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. And as Richard sat in a wheelchair beneath that great marble statue, he wept. And the crowd that gathered around him wept, too, to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day — to the progress of a nation — he thought might never come.

Richard Overton, this American veteran, is 107 years old. (Applause.) And we are honored that he’s here with us today. So let’s ask Richard to stand again — because he can stand. (Applause.)

And this is how we’ll be judged. Not just by how well we care for our troops in battle, but how we treat them when they come home — and by the America we build together; by what we do with the security and peace that they have helped grant us; by the progress that allows citizens from Richard Overton to Jacare Hogan to play their part in the American story.

Today, our message to all those who have ever worn the uniform of this nation is this: We will stand by your side, whether you’re seven days out or, like Richard, seventy years out. Because here in America, we take care of our own. We honor the sacrifice that has been made in our name, for this nation that we love. And we commit ourselves to standing by these veterans and their families, for as long as we’re blessed to walk this Earth.”

Complete text: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/08/remarks-president-veterans-day

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President’s Weekly Address: Honoring America’s Veterans, 11/9/13

The President:

“Hello everyone. Veterans’ Day Weekend is a chance for all of us to say two simple words: “Thank you.” Thank you to that greatest generation who fought island by island across the Pacific, and freed millions from fascism in Europe. Thank you to the heroes who risked everything through the bitter cold of Korea and the stifling heat of Vietnam. And thank you to all the heroes who have served since, most recently our 9/11 Generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now that more of them are coming home, we need to serve them as well as they served us. That requires more than a simple “thank you” – especially from those of us who’ve been elected to serve.

I’ve often said that my top priority is growing the economy, creating new jobs, and restoring middle-class security. And a very important part of that is making sure that every veteran has every chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped defend. In addition to the care and benefits they’ve earned – including good mental health care to stay strong – that means a good job, a good education, and a home to call their own.

If you fight for your country overseas, you should never have to fight for a job when you come home. I’ve made sure the federal government leads by example, and since I took office, we’ve hired about 300,000 veterans to keep serving their country. Our new transition assistance program is helping veterans and their spouses find that new job and plan their career. And I’m going to keep calling on Congress to do the right thing and pass the Veterans Jobs Corps. Put our veterans to work rebuilding America.

Our troops gain unmatched skills while serving in harm’s way. So we’re also doing everything we can to connect more businesses with highly-skilled veterans. More help with job searches. More tools to connect veterans to job openings. More chances to earn licenses and credentials for civilian jobs. And new tax credits for companies that hire veterans and wounded warriors – tax credits which Congress should make permanent.

And America’s businesses have worked with Michelle and Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign to help returning heroes find jobs in the private sector. They’ve already hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses, and they’ve committed to hiring over 400,000 more.

We’re also committed to giving today’s veterans and their families the same shot at a great education this country gave my grandfather when he came home from World War II. We’re helping more of them earn their degrees under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We’ve worked with thousands of schools across the country to set new standards to protect against dishonest recruiting and predatory lending practices that target our veterans. And we’re helping hundreds of community colleges and universities do more to welcome and encourage our veterans on campus.

Thanks to these efforts, and the efforts of the private sector, we’ve made progress getting our vets back to work. But we’ve got a lot more to do. And as more than a million of our troops return to civilian life, we’re going to have to work even harder. Because the skill, dedication, and courage of our troops is unmatched – and when they come home, we all benefit from their efforts to build a stronger America and a brighter future for our kids.

So to all our veterans, on behalf our entire nation, thank you for everything you’ve done and will continue to do for our country. As your Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud of your service, and grateful for your sacrifice. And as long as I’m your President, I will make it my mission to make sure that America has your back, not just on one day or one weekend, but 365 days a year.

Thanks. God bless you, and have a great weekend.”