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Bush Honors Veterans, Vows to Boost Programs to Support Them

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2005 – Veterans who sacrificed and risked their lives for their country deserve the respect and gratitude of their nation, not just on Veterans Day, but every day, President Bush said today at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa.

Bush traveled to the Pocono Mountain post today to express appreciation firsthand to servicemembers, veterans and family members and to promise continued support for the nation's veterans.

"All of America's veterans have placed the nation's security before their own lives," Bush said. And while their sacrifices can't ever be fully repaid, there's plenty the United States can do, he said.

He cited recent initiatives directed at veterans, from improved medical care to programs to reduce homelessness among veterans. "We strongly believe no veteran who served in the blazing heat or bitter cold of foreign lands should have to live without shelter in our own country," he said.

Since 2001, the United States has increased spending for veterans by $24 billion, an increase of 53 percent, Bush said. At the same time, the nation has boosted the Department of Veterans Affairs' medical-care budget by 51 percent, increased total outpatient visits and the number of prescriptions filled, and reduced the backlog of disability claims, he said.

Meanwhile, the United States has committed more than $1.5 billion to modernizing and expanding VA facilities so veterans can get better care closer to home, he said.

Bush paid special tribute today to veterans of World War II, which ended 60 years ago, and to families who have lost loved ones in the current war on terror. "On this Veterans Day, we honor the courage of those who were lost in our current struggle," he said. "We think of the families who lost a loved one. We pray for their comfort."

The president also remembered those listed as missing in action and vowed never to give up the effort to bring answers to their families. "America must never forget their courage, and we will not stop searching until we have accounted for every soldier and sailor and airman and Marine missing in the line of duty," Bush said.

The United States owes a debt to its veterans year-round, but particularly on Veterans Day, the president said.

"Today our nation pays tribute to those veterans -- 25 million veterans -- who have worn the uniform of the United States of America," Bush said. "Each of these men and women took an oath to defend America, and they upheld that oath with honor and decency."

Through the generations, these veterans have protected the freedoms Americans and others around the world enjoy every day, he said. "They have humbled dictators and liberated continents and set a standard of courage and idealism for the entire world," he said.

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