Washington, DC…Hi, everybody. This week, America came together to salute our veterans – to express our appreciation to all who served so that we might live free. But our gratitude should extend beyond what our veterans have done for us in the past. It should remind us of our responsibility to serve them as well as they have served us. It should compel us to keep our veterans central to the ongoing work of this nation.
In recent years, we’ve made historic investments to boost the VA budget, expand veterans’ benefits, and improve care for our wounded warriors. We’ve now slashed the disability claims backlog by nearly 90 percent from its peak. We’re reducing the outrage of veterans’ homelessness and we’ve helped tens of thousands of veterans get off the streets. The veterans’ unemployment rate is down to 3.9 percent – even lower than the national average.
Of course, we’re not satisfied. We’ve still got more work to do – and I’ve directed my Administration to keep doing everything it can to fulfill our promise to our veterans. But this isn’t just a job for government alone. We all have a role to play. Less than one percent of Americans are serving in uniform. So it’s true most Americans don’t always see and appreciate the incredible skills and assets that our veterans can offer. But every American should know that our veterans are some of the most talented, capable people in the world. They’ve mastered skills and technologies and leadership roles that are impossible to teach off the battlefield. They know how to get stuff done.
And as our veterans will tell you themselves, they’re not finished serving their country. They’re teachers and doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs, social workers and community leaders. They serve in statehouses across the country and in Congress. As I tell small business owners and CEOs on a regular basis, if you want to get the job done, hire a vet. Every sector, every industry, every community in this country can benefit from the incredible talents of our veterans.
Our troops and veterans give us their very best. That’s what a soldier named Captain Florent Groberg proved. Three years ago, on patrol in Afghanistan, Flo saw a suicide bomber coming toward his unit. Without hesitating, Flo grabbed him by his vest and helped push him to the ground. When the bomb went off, Flo was badly injured, and four of his comrades were killed. But many more were saved because of Flo’s sacrifice. Flo represents the very best of America – and this week, I was proud to present him with the Medal of Honor for his actions.
Veterans like Flo, they deserve our undying gratitude. They deserve the chance to keep serving the country they risked everything to defend. And so we must come together to keep giving them that chance, not just on Veterans Day, but on every single day of the year. May God bless all those who serve and all who have given their lives for our country. And may God bless the United States of America.