Obama, Panetta Praise Military Veterans’ Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta today joined Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in rec­og­niz­ing the con­tri­bu­tions vet­er­ans have made through­out U.S. his­to­ry and the sac­ri­fices U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers con­tin­ue to make in defend­ing its free­doms.

“On my first Vet­er­ans Day as sec­re­tary of defense, I want to extend my deep­est thanks to all of you serv­ing this coun­try in uni­form,” Panet­ta said in a video to the force being aired world­wide on the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Armed Forces Net­work.

“In trav­el­ing to the front lines, in vis­it­ing with wound­ed war­riors, I have been inspired by the patri­o­tism and ded­i­ca­tion of our ser­vice mem­bers,” the sec­re­tary con­tin­ued. “Over the past 10 years of war, you have done all that was asked of you — and more. You tru­ly are the next Great­est Gen­er­a­tion.”

Panet­ta rec­og­nized mil­i­tary mem­bers’ brav­ery and self­less ser­vice as they’ve defend­ed the nation since its incep­tion.

“Our vet­er­ans and cur­rent ser­vice mem­bers deserve our country’s grat­i­tude — not just on Vet­er­ans Day, but every day,” he said. “Thank you, and may God bless you and your fam­i­lies.”

The pres­i­dent, in a procla­ma­tion released ear­li­er this week, not­ed the ster­ling exam­ple vet­er­ans have shown through­out his­to­ry as they put their coun­try ahead of them­selves.

“In times of war and peace alike, our vet­er­ans have served with courage and dis­tinc­tion in the face of tremen­dous adver­si­ty, demon­strat­ing an unfal­ter­ing com­mit­ment to Amer­i­ca and our peo­ple,” Oba­ma said. “Many have made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice to pre­serve the coun­try they loved.”

The pres­i­dent not­ed that many vet­er­ans, after leav­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice, have con­tin­ued to serve as lead­ers in their com­mu­ni­ties and work­places.

The self­less­ness of mil­i­tary mem­bers and vet­er­ans is “unmatched,” Oba­ma said, not­ing vet­er­ans pro­vide a reminder that “there are few things more fun­da­men­tal­ly Amer­i­can than doing our utmost to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of oth­ers.”

In return, the Unit­ed States has a moral oblig­a­tion to ensure that vet­er­ans receive sup­port “for as long as they live as proud vet­er­ans of the Unit­ed States armed forces,” the pres­i­dent said. He pledged to hon­or troops per­form­ing mis­sions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all oth­ers who serve or have served in uni­form “by work­ing tire­less­ly to give them the care, the ben­e­fits, and the oppor­tu­ni­ties they have earned.”

“On Vet­er­ans Day, we pay trib­ute to our vet­er­ans, to the fall­en and to their fam­i­lies,” Oba­ma said. “Let us reded­i­cate our­selves to serv­ing them as well as they have served the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)