By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va., November 11, 2015 — Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who will receive the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony tomorrow, is representative of America’s veterans, the secretary of Veterans Affairs said today.
Bob McDonald, speaking at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater here, said Groberg’s actions in Kunar province, Afghanistan are "emblematic of the service and sacrifices of young men and women from every generation of American veterans.”
McDonald said Groberg – who was medically retired due to his wounds – “acted in a manner that saved the lives of many of his comrades.” Still, a suicide bomber killed four men in his patrol.
“When he was informed last month that he would receive the Medal of Honor, he said, ‘This medal belongs to them. It’s my mission to tell everyone thank you for recognizing me, but this does not belong to me. It belongs to them,’” McDonald said.
Selfless Service for Others
For 240 years, Americans have answered the call to duty to preserve and defend the vision that is the United States, he said.
“Each generation has done its part to deliver a strong and free America to the next generation,” the secretary said. “They have done so with great determination, personal toughness and willingness to risk it all for others.”
McDonald especially acknowledged those who served in two conflicts. “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the beginning of our 50th commemoration of the decade-long war in Vietnam,” he said. “To those who fought in both wars, thank you for your selfless service. Americans are ever grateful for your sacrifices.”
McDonald said his agency will continue to drive the claims backlog down. The VA has hired new staff and is opening new facilities, he said, and the agency is looking to further partnerships within communities.
The secretary praised President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for their support and for finding new resources for veterans. “The president and vice president understand and value the service and sacrifice of veterans,” McDonald said. “That’s why they have provided strong and increasing resources for care and benefits, support of the new GI Bill to educate the next generation of American leaders, tremendous support to help VA drive down the backlog in claims by almost 90 percent and improve access to quality health care for all veterans.”
The secretary also praised Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for their work with the Joining Forces initiative, which aims to bring the public and private sectors together in support of employment of service members, veterans and all of their family members.
“Veterans could not ask for stronger advocates than our president, vice president and their wives," McDonald said.