This morning the President speaks at the national convention of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia. As the end of combat operations in Iraq draws near, it is a time to salute those who have sacrificed their lives, and to honor those who have come back – both through words and through a renewed commitment to ensure they are given all the benefits they are due.
Vice President Biden was joined by Dr. Jill Biden last week at a Welcome Home Ceremony for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Iraq at Fort Drum in New York. One of the most deployed brigades in the U.S. Army, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team has participated in three deployments to Afghanistan and four deployments to Iraq. He placed today’s veterans squarely in the proud tradition of America’s military, saying “today’s warriors are worthy successors to that proud legacy. Our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—and the demands we have placed on our soldiers and their families—are unlike any that came before.” He also reminded us that there are others who should be honored as well:
Jill and I understand how your families must feel at a time like this. The day that our son Beau came back from a yearlong tour in Baghdad was one of the proudest of our lives.
While he was gone, we came to appreciate what the poet John Milton meant when he said: “they also serve who only stand and wait.”
Pledging that the President would keep his commitment to America’s veterans, from improved health care to the new GI Bill, he reminded them that the end of combat operations will be a commitment fulfilled in itself:
On his first full day on the job, he ordered a comprehensive review of our strategy in Iraq. And a month later, at Camp Lejeune, he described how we would move forward.
We have followed that plan every step of the way, and we will continue to follow it until our last troop comes home next year.