Cheney Praises Troops, Thanks Veterans at VFW Conference
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 5, 2007 Vice President Richard B. Cheney today assured those attending the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference here that he and other U.S. leaders are committed to members of the armed forces and to the nation’s strategy overseas.
After he thanked VFW members attending the Community Service and Legislative Conference for their continued service to the nation, Cheney told them the nation’s leaders share the same dedication to the men and women in uniform as those in the audience.
“Pride in service and willingness to give all in the defense of freedom are familiar concepts to people in this room,” the vice president said. “You know what it means to put the country’s interests above all other considerations. Your service didn’t end with your discharge.”
During his speech, Cheney shared with VFW members his thoughts on recent visits with troops overseas in Guam and Afghanistan.
“Every time I visit a military installation, I come away inspired and filled with respect for the men and women who wear this country’s uniform,” he said. “They are doing a superb job for the United States of America. They’re a credit to every generation that has ever served in the armed forces.”
Just as the organization has served veterans and the nation, Cheney said, he and President Bush are committed to keeping every promise made to former military members.
Aside from requesting additional funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Cheney said, leaders also are supporting those who have served the nation by focusing on recent concerns with Washington’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“(Defense) Secretary Bob Gates has moved quickly to ensure that our injured soldiers are taken care of,” Cheney said. “We’re going to fix the problem as Walter Reed -- period.”
In describing the independent review group that has been asked to investigate the situation, the vice president said the group will identify necessary steps to make sure the same situation never happens again.
In addition to improving conditions at the military treatment facility, he said, the group will investigate to see if similar problems are occurring at other military and Veterans Affairs hospitals.
“These great men and women deserve the heartfelt thanks from our country and the best medical care we can possibly provide,” he said.
Cheney went on to stress the important work that is yet to be done in the defense of the United States. “The fact that we have defeated all attempts to strike the United States again (since Sept. 11, 2001) doesn’t mean we will not be hit in the future,” he said.
The vice president said the set of challenges following the Sept. 11 attacks is unlike others the nation has ever faced, but improvements in intelligence have reduced the time terrorists now have to develop and carry out plots.
“This war is not a matter of finding an opposing army and defeating it or finding a navy and sinking it,” he said.
These terrorist enemies are hidden and dispersed, and they view the entire world as their battlefield, he said.
The vice president shared that the U.S. armed forces are working with NATO allies in Afghanistan to lead an offensive against the Taliban. In Iraq, coalition forces are working to bolster the nation’s army to secure Baghdad and strengthen the fledgling democracy.
He went on to remind the audience members that every action and statement officials make has multiple audiences: the American people, servicemembers, allies and enemies.
“A watching world needs to know that the United States is determined to prevail because we’re a nation that keeps its word and because we understand the consequences of failure.”
He said that the nation’s resolve is essential. “Terrorist know they can’t beat us in a stand-up fight; they never have,” he said. “The only way they can win is if we lose the nerve and abandon our mission.”
Quoting Multinational Force Iraq Commander Gen. David Petraeus, the vice president warned there will be tough days ahead.
“We don’t know and we cannot predict every turn that lies ahead,” he said. “As General Petraeus put it, the way ahead will be neither quick nor easy.”
But, Cheney said, the most reliable fact of this war is the skill and courage of the men and women who fight it. “Wartime is always a serious test of a nation’s resolve. … Yet, the purposes we serve as a nation are good ones,” he said. “The people who wear its uniform reflect the best that’s in us.”
“Members of the armed forces are serving in nearly 80 different countries,” the vice president said. “It’s a messy, dangerous world made better by the active, committed presence of the United States.”
“The cause we serve is freedom,” he said. “That cause is right and, by the valor of those who serve it, that valor will prevail.”