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Veterans Full Employment Act Bill Signing

Location: Annapolis, MD

As we begin this signing ceremony, I would just like to ask all of us to take a moment of silence in solidarity for our neighbors and fellow citizens in Boston.

Thank you very, very much. We are so honored to have First Lady Michelle Obama come once again to Annapolis. And, Mrs. Obama, we in Maryland continue to look to your leadership and to your example. The passion that you have brought to the cause of our military families and their spouses, and their children -- it is something that has truly been an inspiration. And I know that I speak for Mrs. O'Malley -- I don't often do that [laughter] -- but I can say safely that she's also very, very glad you're here. The work that you and Dr. Biden have done to inspire so many states to improve what we do in terms of welcoming our veterans back, making sure we remove the barriers to employment--and that's what we're here to do today.

So, I thank all of you for being here. And to the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, thank you for being here, sir. And thank you for that great little school you run down the road [laughter]. I want to thank Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller. Thank you Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, the highest-ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq, for the special sensitivity he's brought to this issue, as well as Stacy Mayer, David Stamper. And all the members of the Maryland General Assembly, Delegate Pete Hammen, Chairman Dereck Davis, Senator Joan Carter Conway, Senator Uly Currie, Senator Doug Peters, Delegate Sonny Minnick. Also I want to thank Attorney General Gansler and Mayor Cohen for their presence here, as well.

We're here for one very important reason, and that is to do right by our veterans and our military families who have done so very, very much for us.

Just downstairs -- in fact almost directly beneath where we're standing -- George Washington resigned his commission and gave the authority of the peoples' army back to the representatives of the people. He was a man of very few words, but half of the words he spoke that day were about doing right by our veterans. And he challenged those members of Congress to do better for the men and women who put themselves in harm's way, and put on the uniform of the United States.

He talked about them, those veterans, as his family. And so, too, does our First Lady. She feels the struggles that they go through. She has met with so many of our servicemen and women. And these individuals should never come home -- after overcoming all the barriers they have for us--be faced with barriers to employment, barriers to licensing, barriers that prevent them from keeping a roof over their children's heads and providing them with a loving home with economic security and dignity.

And so to all of you who have made this day possible, thank you for creating jobs and expanding opportunities for our veterans and our military families. This is not just the right thing to do for our veterans, it's also the essential thing that we must do for our State and for our country, because every single person, and every person's talent is needed in order to expand jobs and expand opportunities.

It's now my great honor to introduce to you former Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Andrew Hite.

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