Congressman Carson's Speech To VFW National Convention
Thank you for having me here and for making the trip to Indianapolis. I am so pleased to welcome all of you to our great city. You have served and sacrificed for our great country, and are privileged to have you in Indianapolis.
I want to give a special word of thanks to our own veterans from Indiana who are attending this event. My grandfather is a proud Hoosier vet, and he remains a constant source of pride and inspiration to me and others in my family.
I also want to acknowledge Commander-in-Chief Thomas Tradewell and all the VFW leadership for organizing such a fantastic convention.
Now I know that Vice President Biden was here yesterday, and I had a chance to see him speak. He's a pretty difficult act to follow but I'm glad that you got to hear about some of the critical work the Obama Administration is doing to improve the VA and better serve our veterans. But the success we've seen over the last few years has been the result of a team effort. Together, President Obama, Secretary Shinseki and this Congress have realized that too often in the past, our veterans were treated like second class citizens.
Your service to our country was met with inadequate services and insufficient attention by Washington, but I think we have started to reverse that trend over the last few years. Since Democrats gained control of Congress in 2006, we have passed increases in the VA budget every year, including a record increase of nearly 12 percent last year. And this year, for the first time, the VA is operating with advanced appropriations. Ensuring this funding up front has been a top priority of the VFW for years, and this means you will not see your health services cut when the VA comes to the end of its fiscal year next month.
We are not only working ensure you receive the health care you deserve-but the opportunity to build a life as well. Due to the 21st Century GI Bill, returning veterans have new opportunities to pursue higher education-leading to higher paying, more stable jobs. Just a few months ago, I introduced and passed the Military Families Financial Preparedness Act. This will ensure that separating service members receive the financial training they need to make positive investment decisions, avoid debt and ensure their families are on solid financial footing.
I recently made a trip to Afghanistan and saw first-hand the harsh conditions and treacherous terrain our troops are facing every day. These men and women are doing a phenomenal job-putting their lives and livelihoods on the line every day to protect us at home.
Today, I'm more convinced then ever that our men and women over there can crush al Qaida, defeat the Taliban and end the hold that extremists have had for too long in this region. As the Vice-President said, we are seeing progress in Afghanistan, and I think we will see some troops coming home next year per the President's strategy.
We need to be ready to not only welcome them-but to honor them by ensuring they have all the services they need. Too many of you experienced the joys of returning home, only to face ostracism and challenges reintegrating into your communities.
You came back to American only to be denied the services you were promised or the respect you deserved.
The past treatment of our veterans is nothing short of disgraceful, and it cannot continue. The treatment of our military heroes is a direct reflection of our nation's values and another area that separates America from the rest of the world. This is why we-the VFW, Congress and the President-are working to ensure our veterans come home to the services and care they need-not bureaucratic red tape.
Each of you have put your life on the line to protect our freedom and way of life, and each of you deserves a country that recognizes and respects the sacrifices you've made. The steps taken by Congress and leaders like Secretary Shinseki are building a better nation for all veterans, but our work is far from over.
Together, we'll keep pushing to better serve our veterans and better represent the ideals they fought for and continue to fight for around the world. Thank you all again for being here, welcome to Indianapolis and enjoy the rest of the convention.
God bless. Thank you.