Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Sanford Bishop and many Democratic Members of Congress hosted a roundtable discussion with leaders of Veterans' and Military Service Organizations this afternoon in the Capitol. Below are the Speaker's opening remarks as prepared:
"We come together as America prepares to honor Veterans Day, thanking those who have worn our nation's uniform and remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"It has been a priority of this Congress that we treat every day as if it were Veterans Day. In that spirit, just this morning, Congressman Sanford Bishop of Georgia and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington launched the bipartisan Congressional Military Families Caucus.
"At these roundtables in the past, you have told us that military families want to make sure there are voices are heard on Capitol Hill. This Caucus will be an advocate for America's military families and their priorities.
"Late last month, we celebrated the passage the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act. I know this was your number one priority, and this success is because of the staunch advocacy of America's VSOs. Now, the VA will have timely and predictable funding, and our veterans will receive the high quality medical care they have earned.
"In honor of the upcoming Veterans Day, this week the House passed several bills that put our veterans, troops, and their families first. The Veterans Small Business Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act strengthens VA outreach efforts to veterans to ensure that they get their earned VA benefits. The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act gives military spouses the ability to keep or change residency when they move. And the Veterans Retraining Act provides a stipend and moving assistance to some unemployed veterans.
"These actions build on the record of this Congress, working with veterans and military family organizations.
"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has helped turn our economy around for all Americans. It provided a tax credit for hiring veterans, and a $250 payment for disabled veterans.
"We have made historic investments in veterans services and health care and passed the largest veterans funding increase ever requested by a President in the budget.
"The Defense Authorization legislation included a special payment to 185,000 service members who have had their enlistments involuntarily extended. It also gave our troops a pay raise, helped restore military readiness, and strengthened support for military families.
"Our signature achievement remains the New GI Bill, providing our troops and our veterans with a full, four-year college education.
"In all our work, you know my commitment: just as the military pledges to never leave no soldier behind on the battlefield, we will leave no veteran behind when they come home.
"I'm now pleased to introduce a champion of military families, Congressman Sanford Bishop, who will tell us more about the Congressional Military Families Caucus."