Sunday, November 13, 2011

Obama Urges Nation to Serve Veterans Who Served

Begin by discovering the best military books in which America’s veterans tell you their own stories.

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2011 – President Barack Obama taped his weekly radio address, released today, from the bridge of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, praising the men and women and uniform and underscoring the nation’s commitment to them and all veterans.

The president, who traveled to the ship yesterday to meet with the crew and enjoy “one of the most unique college basketball games I’ve ever seen” with them, said Veterans Day isn’t just about thanking veterans.

“It’s about rededicating ourselves to serving our veterans as well as they’ve served us,” he said. “And right now, that’s more important than ever.”

Obama noted his announcement last month to end the war in Iraq by the year’s end, just in time for military families to welcome home their loved ones for the holidays.

In the meantime, the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is beginning to wind down.

That means that within the next five years, more than 1 million service members will transition back into civilian life, he said, joining the 3 million who already have done so over the last decade.

Although many have served with distinction in some of the most dangerous places on the planet, he said many face new challenges when they leave the military.

“Today, more than 850,000 veterans remain unemployed. And too many are struggling to find a job worthy of their talents and experience,” he said.

“That’s not right,” the president continued. “We ask these men and women to leave their families and their jobs and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home.”

To give our veterans the opportunities they’ve earned, the president said he’s directed the federal government to lead by example. Noting that it has hired 120,000 additional veterans, Obama said he has challenged private companies to follow that lead by hiring or training 100,000 post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.

While noting hirings already made and new pledges made, “we need to do more,” the president said. That, he said, includes passage of legislation to provide tax credits for employers who hire unemployed veterans or wounded warriors.

“As commander-in-chief, I want every veteran to know that America will always honor your service and your sacrifice – not just today, but every day,” the president concluded.

“And just as you fought for us, we’re going to keep fighting for you – for more jobs, for more security, for the opportunity to keep your families strong and America competitive in the 21st century.”

GW Sailors Volunteer at Ning Po College

Learn more about naval operations in these United States Navy books written only by experienced Navy veterans.

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marcus D. Mince, USS George Washington Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- Sailors and command-sponsored sports team members from the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) visited Ning Po College during a port visit to Hong Kong, Nov. 11.

Sailors interacted with young adults 14 to 18 years of age one day of their five-day port visit in Hong Kong for a community service project (COMSERV).

Upon arrival, the more than 20 Sailors were greeted by Ning Po College students and Sunshine Action volunteers who assisted in organizing the event.

"It's a great way for these students to interact with native English speakers," said Susanna Auyeung, a full-time volunteer for Sunshine Action. "It helps to build an established sense of self-confidence in their ability to speak proper English."

George Washington Sailors played sports, games and even gave a few drum lessons to the students, followed by an opportunity to speak one-on-one on how to deal with hardship and failure.

"The COMSERVs that we do allow everyone from the ship to give of themselves and they are very unique opportunities for all of us to share our experiences and what we've learned throughout our careers in the military," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Paul Hryhorenko, the COMSERV leader for the event.

The trip to Ning Po College was one of 14 COMSERV events George Washington Sailors participated in during the port visit to Hong Kong.

Both the male and female soccer teams, the male and female basketball teams, and the ships rugby team were represented by volunteers for this COMSERV project.

This was George Washington's first time visiting Hong Kong since Oct., 2009. As the Navy's only full-time forward deployed aircraft carrier, George Washington's mission is to help ensure security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean and work with regional partners and allies of the United States.

Obama Thanks Service Members, Vets During Carrier Classic

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The commander-in-chief caught a basketball game along with more than 8,000 of his closest friends aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier in San Diego last night.

President Barack Obama and more than 8,000 sailors, Marines and veterans watched the kick-off of the National Collegiate Athletic Association college hoops season aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

The president began the day with a breakfast with veterans at the White House and officiated at the national tribute to veterans at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. He then flew to San Diego, where he attended the basketball game aboard the carrier before flying on to Hawaii to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference.

“The main reason we’re here is, on Veterans Day, we have an opportunity to say thank you,” Obama said to the crew and veterans aboard the carrier.

“One of the greatest privileges of this job, and one of the greatest responsibilities of this job, is to serve as your commander-in-chief. And I can tell you that every day when I interact with our military, every day when I interact with the men and women in uniform, I could not be prouder to be an American,” he said.

Now the country must serve veterans as well as they have served the country, the president said. “When they come home, part of the long line of those who defended our freedom, we have a sacred trust to make sure that they understand how much we appreciate what they do,” he told the crew.

“So to all our veterans, to all our men and women in uniform, we say thank you.”

But beyond that, Obama said Americans must understand the sacrifices service members and veterans have made and give them the opportunities they have earned. He noted initiatives already in place and others to come.

“We’ve put in place a series of reforms to help veterans, make sure they get the counseling and the job placement that they need,” the president said.

Obama touted the Joining Forces program led by his wife, Michelle, and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. That effort has now gotten commitments from businesses to provide 100,000 jobs for veterans and military spouses all across the country.

“But every American citizen can make a solemn pledge today that they will find some opportunity to provide support to our troops, to those who are still active duty, to our National Guard, to our reservists and to our veterans,” Obama said.

The flight deck of USS Carl Vinson was an especially appropriate venue for last night’s basketball game. North Carolina and Michigan State – two storied NCAA teams – played on the same deck that launched some of the first sorties against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and played a part in the mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.

Parts of the game were typical; basketball sportscaster Dick Vitale was on the mike, and UNC alumnus James Worthy and Michigan State great Earvin “Magic” Johnson attended. The crowd did the wave and followed the action intently.

But parts of the game were distinctly different. There was no beer in the stands -- the Navy is dry afloat -- and the action stopped to lower the U.S. flag at sunset. Sitting in the stands was former Army Spec. John Baca, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in 1970.

North Carolina won the game 67-55.

Seabees Honor Fallen Hero

See the best Vietnam veteran books and learn about the courage and sacrifices from the heroes who fought in Vietnam.

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Riley, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West NW Det.

GARDINER, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors, veterans and family members gathered for a ceremony to honor the only Navy Seabee to ever receive the Medal of Honor at a Veterans Day ceremony at Gardiner Community Cemetery in Gardiner, Wash. Nov. 11.

The ceremony honored Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields who was attached to a Navy Seabee unit constructing an airstrip. He was killed in action in June 1965 in Dong Xaoi, Vietnam.

This year marks the 45th anniversary for the annual memorial service, which is coordinated by the Navy Seabee Veterans of America (NSVA).

"I am speechless by the number of people that would come out to do this," said Joan Shields-Bennett, surviving wife of Shields. "I am so proud of everybody. I am honored. I know that Marvin is honored, and I hope that we can keep doing this."

During the ceremony, veterans presented Shields' grave with a flower arrangement.

"The ceremony was very moving," said Devin Shermin, a resident in attendance. "It's refreshing to see that our heroes aren't forgotten."

Shields-Bennett said she was grateful to the Seabee community and stressed the importance of honoring service members.

"It isn't just he that should be honored today, but it is all the people who wear the uniform and wore the uniform. It's Veterans Day."

Shields was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1966 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson for gallantry during combat.