Thursday, February 2, 2023

Biden pays tribute to veterans, the “ soul of America, ” at Arlington National Cemetery

President Joe Biden honored the country’s military on Thursday, calling his responsibility to care for his veterans “America’s one truly sacred duty” and calling the leadership of Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery the greatest honor he has received in the line of duty. …

“We thank all our veterans of the past and present. We respect you. And we always remember what you did for us … You veterans are the soul of America, the soul of America. That’s why our veterans have always fought, were always willing to put themselves at stake, ”Biden said in a speech to 650 people after the wreath-laying ceremony Thursday morning at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

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Biden recalled three prominent veterans who have passed away in recent weeks: former Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell, Republican and friend; General Raymond T. Odierno, who helped strategize the war in Iraq; and former Senator Max Cleland, a Georgia Democrat, triple amputated Vietnam veteran who headed the Veterans Administration, now the Veterans Affairs Department, under the Carter Administration. These stories have inspired future generations to recruit, Biden said, adding that being a veteran is “a sign of courage that unites people of all ages, regardless of background.”

“Because being a veteran is about enduring and surviving hardships that most Americans will never know about,” Biden said. “You did it for us. You did it for America. To defend and serve American values, to defend our country and our constitution from all enemies. “

As he often does with veteran groups, military families, or those in mourning, Biden mentioned his late son, Beau Biden, who served as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and was sent to Iraq for a year.

“Jill and I learned what it means to pray every day for the safe return of the one you love,” Biden said of his son’s appointment. “So many of you have done it.”

The event was supported by etiquette and contained virtually no polarizing political references. Virginia’s secretary Dennis McDonough, speaking to Biden, briefly mentioned Afghanistan, where the last US troops departed on August 30, ending the nearly 20-year war that began in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Conservatives criticized the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which 13 American troops were killed in the attack, as they supported the evacuation effort.

“From the beginning of our struggle for independence in Lexington and Concord until the end of the longest war in American history in Afghanistan, millions of veterans have risked their lives to preserve the democratic ideals of this great country,” McDonough said. “Today we live in peace and prosperity because of them and you.”

Biden referred to a card that he always carried with him, which indicated the number of US soldiers killed or wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The numbers were 7,074 and 52,323, respectively, he said Thursday, and “untold thousands” have returned with invisible psychological wounds.

“Guys, on Veterans Day, we must always remember that there is nothing low-risk or inexpensive in war for the women and men who are fighting it,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, the administration announced plans to expand support for veterans who were exposed to potential pollutants and environmental hazards in the line of duty, including the herbicide Agent Orange and toxic incinerators. Some of these actions include providing access to VA services and benefits for a wider range of medical conditions that may be associated with exposure to such toxins, improving individual exposure data, expanding training for VA and non-VA health care providers, and extending the veteran’s eligibility period. to receive VA medical care.

For example, veterans who served in the “theater of war in Southwest Asia” and developed asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis within 10 years of service are now eligible to apply for VA disability benefits and access to health care, said Thursday. The White house.

Taken together, these actions will improve our understanding of the health effects of military-related exposure, educate health care providers and veterans of these impacts, and provide more timely access to health services and benefits for those exposed to radiation, “the White House said. in his statement. statement. “The administration will continue to prioritize support for veterans who have been exposed to environmental hazards during their military service.”

Biden suggested that his son Bo may have developed brain cancer after being exposed to incineration pits while serving in Iraq. Bo Biden died in 2015, two years after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“We will continue to push on this front to be more flexible and responsive, analyzing all the data and evidence to determine additional implied conditions to make sure our veterans don’t have to wait to get the help they need,” the president said.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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