Sir John A, Macdonald Building
As prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Minister Hehr, for inviting me to speak today. I am honored to be here, and I appreciate the opportunity to thank Team Rubicon for the service its members have rendered both in uniform and in civilian life.
Like so many Canadian and American families, my family has a proud history of military service. When I became the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, I chose a collection of meaningful mementos to display in my office at the Embassy. My grandfather, Pvt. Samuel Heyman, served in World War I, and I have his full uniform and some of his other possessions on view. His story is part of my story, and I honor his service.
President Obama, as the United States’ Commander-in-Chief, has told our veterans, “In your heroism we see the enduring spirit of America.” In this gathering I see the enduring spirit of Canada – the sacrifice, the courage, the selflessness, and the patriotism that inspire and motivate you.
The Obama Administration has made a strong commitment to providing our veterans with the care and support they deserve. The United States has made historic investments to boost the Veterans Affairs budget, expand benefits, and offer more mental health care – especially for those who have post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. More than 1.6 million veterans and their families have been able to pursue an education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill — a $65 billion commitment. Our government has worked to make it easier for veterans to get licenses and certifications to transition to civilian jobs, and helping veterans and military spouses find jobs.
President Obama knows, as you know, that veterans are brave, selfless, qualified, and know how to get things done. They’ve helped to reconstruct towns and mediate disputes, managed large-scale projects, mastered cutting-edge technologies, and performed under pressure. They’ve learned how to work on teams, stay committed to a mission, and solve seemingly intractable problems. Our veterans, like you, are moms and dads, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, teachers and doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs, social workers and community leaders. They serve in Congress and in statehouses across the country, and beyond – the former Commander of the International Space Station, retired Navy Captain Scott Kelly, is a proud veteran.
Our veterans indeed have a lot to contribute. To quote the President, “if you can save a life on the battlefield, you can save a life in an ambulance. If you can oversee a convoy or millions of dollars of assets in a conflict zone, you sure can help manage a company’s supply chain. If you can maintain the most advanced weapons in the world…you can manufacture the next generation of advanced technology right here at home.”
So the story of veterans is about continuing the commitment to serving fellow citizens, using the skills and dedication the veterans developed while they were in uniform. This is a principle you exemplify in Team Rubicon. I am humbled to be here before you and wish you great success in your very worthy efforts.
I am proud to say that my wife Vicki has played a part in us all being here today. She has an uncanny ability to find linkages that aren’t always immediately obvious to everyone else. So without further ado, I would like to invite my wife Vicki to tell you a little more about our relationship with Team Rubicon. Vicki…