On Veterans Day, Americans gather to pay a debt of gratitude to the generations who’ve answered the call to serve in the armed forces of the United States.
From Bunker Hill to Belleau Wood, from San Juan Hill to Saipan, from the Coral Reef to Kandahar, nearly 50 million men and women have donned the uniform of the United States, and nearly 20 million veterans still walk among us. Today a new generation of American heroes and veterans is being forged around the nation and around the world.
Our veterans really don’t consider themselves heroes — most of them reject the very thought of it. My dad, a combat veteran from the Korean War, used to say with humility that the heroes were the guys who didn’t make it home.
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But on Veterans Day, it’s our day to set the record straight. Every veteran of the armed forces of the United States is a hero to the American people. On this day, it’s our duty to tell the story of what they did for us, what they did for our country, and all that they’ve done to ensure the survival and the success of liberty.
As a father of a Marine Corps captain and a father-in-law of a Navy lieutenant who’s currently deployed, I couldn’t be more proud to be vice president to a president who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces and every veteran in America.
Since the first day of our administration, President Trump has fought to ensure that America keeps the solemn promises we’ve made to all of our nation’s heroes.
Four years ago, years of budgetary neglect combined with ever-growing foreign commitments were sapping the strength of our men and women in uniform and challenging their morale. Scandal after scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) revealed a cold indifference to the fate of our veterans.
In his speech to the American Legion in September 2016 when he was a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to “rebuild our depleted military,” and “ensure every veteran in America gets timely access to top-quality care.” And most importantly, he said we were going to “stop apologizing for America” and we were going to “start celebrating America.” And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
VETERANS, GOLD STAR FAMILIES GIVEN FREE ACCESS TO NATIONAL PARKS, FEDERAL PROPERTY STARTING NOV. 11
With the strong support of our allies in Congress, America is more prosperous, our military is stronger, and our veterans are finally getting the care and the respect they deserve every single day.
We began by fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under this president’s leadership, with our partners in Congress, we passed the VA Mission Act — the most sweeping VA reform law in half a century. And today nearly 3 million veterans have been able to see the doctor of their choice and get the medicine they need.
The president also signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that our veterans receive the highest level of service in the VA system. We’ve fired more than 10,000 VA employees for negligent behavior. The era of abuse at the VA is over.
Since our administration took office, wait times have dropped by 33 percent. In fact, the American Medical Association reported that we reduced wait times at the VA so much that they are now shorter than the wait for private doctors.
Before President Trump took office, our veterans’ trust in the VA was only 59 percent. Today, the VA has a 90 percent approval rating.
Beyond our VA hospitals, we’ve also been making sure that our veterans get the care they need outside of our institutional care. And we’ve actually found permanent homes for nearly 30,000 homeless veterans. There should be no homeless veterans in America. We put an end to this scourge in at least 76 communities across three states.
Under President Trump, we expanded the GI Bill so that veterans can get up to $24,000 to attend the college of their choice at any point in their careers. Last year, President Trump directed the Department of Education to eliminate every last penny of student debt owed by permanently disabled veterans. With the stroke of a pen, President Trump wiped out as much as $750 million owed by more than 25,000 heroes.
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And I couldn’t be more proud that the second lady of the United States leads the PREVENTS task force — an effort to expand mental health benefits to veterans all across America.
Under the president’s leadership, the VA is now providing mental health screenings to every veteran who walks through the door.
To my fellow Americans who did not serve in uniform, I have a challenge for you today.
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Before the day is out — whether at home or at work, on a street corner, or over a backyard fence — find a veteran. Whether he or she came home in the last week or in the last century, extend your hand and say those words that veterans never ask to hear but they deserve to hear every day. Find a veteran today and say: “Thank you for your service.” Because they deserve to hear it every day.
God bless our veterans and their families.
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