“To all our troops, veterans, and military families on this Veterans Day: Thank you for all that you have given to keep America safe. You have our deepest gratitude and our everlasting commitment to continue to uphold the values that you defended,” he said.
“Our service members and veterans chose to put service before self. That ethos extends beyond their years in uniform. Many of our veterans continue to serve their communities after serving their country and enrich our democracy as leaders, teachers, coaches, mentors and more,” Austin said.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks, said that Veterans Day honors the commitment, the sacrifices and the extraordinary contributions of America’s veterans — past and present.
Veterans have enabled all Americans to enjoy the freedoms we hold today, she said.
Hicks noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the nation’s all-volunteer force.
“For the past half century, the United States has relied exclusively on volunteers who choose to raise their hand, recite an oath, and don the uniform. And in doing so, they have deterred aggression, safeguarded our democracy and ensured our national security,” she said.
President Joe Biden provided remarks today at a National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.
“Our veterans are the steel spine of this nation. And their families … are the courageous heart. Most Americans never see the sacrifices that you as family members also make,” he said.
Only 1% of Americans protect that other 99%, he said, regarding the percentage who have or are still serving, Biden noted.
Taking care of those who served and are serving is a sacred obligation, he said. “It’s not an obligation based on part of your politics, but on a promise that unites us all together.”
Biden also issued a Veterans Day proclamation.
“This Veterans Day, we honor the generations of women and men who have served and sacrificed — not for a person, a place, or a president — but for an idea unlike any other: the idea of the United States of America. For nearly 250 years, our veterans have defended the values that make us strong so that our nation could stand as a citadel of liberty, a beacon of freedom, and a wellspring of possibilities,” Biden said.
“This Veterans Day, may we honor the incredible faith that our veterans hold, not just in our country but in all of us. They are the solid-steel backbone of our nation, and we must endeavor to continue being worthy of their sacrifices by working toward a more perfect Union and protecting the freedoms that they have fought to defend,” Biden said.
Austin noted that besides today being Veterans Day, this month is also National Veteran and Military Families Month.
“The Department of Defense’s greatest strategic asset is our people, and we must take the best possible care of them and their families,” he said.
As part of his Veterans Day statement, Austin detailed some of the work DOD is doing to take care of military and family members.
DOD is working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that every veteran has a smooth transition to civilian life, that they receive the comprehensive health care that they have earned, and that they and their families receive the valuable assistance available through DOD programs and services, he said.
The department has recently launched several major initiatives to take even better care of all of its people, Austin said, naming a few.
- Lengthening paid parental leave to 12 weeks for all service members.
- Making high-quality childcare on military installations more affordable and accessible.
- Expanding service members’ eligibility for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts.
- Supporting the careers of military spouses.
- Making military moves easier.
- Increasing service member pay.
- Securing affordable basic needs for service members and their families.