Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Remarks by Secretary Robert Wilkie
Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. 125th Annual National Convention
February 14, 2020
Hello, I’m Robert Wilkie. And I’m very glad to be with you again to be part of your 125th consecutive Annual National Convention. I want to add that the very first Veterans Service Organization I spoke to as Secretary was to you, the oldest Veterans Service Organization in America.
Since the late 19th Century, this group has worked diligently to ensure that we honor the service of Jewish American warriors. But you have done so much more than that. You and your members have always been an ally of America’s highest ideals – individual liberty and freedom from tyranny. And in that way, you have become an important, necessary part of this great nation.
Today, your mission has never been more critical. A group as old as yours never forgets why we defend this nation. And your mission statement and purposes lay out goals that remind us all of America’s founding spirit: Maintaining “true allegiance to the United States of America” and “true Americanism”; fighting for “universal liberty, equal rights, and full justice to all men and women”; fighting against bigotry and combatting whatever “impairs . . . our free institutions”; and instilling “love of country and flag,” and honoring the “memory . . . of our heroic dead.”
The wisdom of this organization is very much needed right now, and on behalf of the President, I thank you for your uncompromising patriotism.
Any American who takes the oath, wears the uniform, and defends this nation and our shared values has a home at VA when they return. And thanks to your support, the VA of today is not the VA you were reading about in 2014.
We’re giving Veterans real, permanent choice under the MISSION Act. We expanded GI benefits under the Colmery Act. We took on the task of caring for thousands of Vietnam Blue Water Navy Veterans. Last month, we launched President Trump’s PREVENTS roadmap, a network of partnerships that can reduce suicide among Veterans and all Americans. And we’re making progress on the challenging task of conforming our electronic health records to those in the Defense Department, despite this epidemic.
As you mark this milestone anniversary, know that we value your leadership and unyielding advocacy for Veterans and the issues most important to them. The spirit of our shared work is expressed in the promise God made to Joshua – a promise Matthew Ridgway relied on the night before the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions launched the liberation of Europe: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Our work is serving America’s Veterans, whom we cannot fail nor forsake.
To Chairman Rosenshein and all your leaders, members of today, and of decades past, thank you for your hard work giving a “Jewish Voice for Veterans” and “a Veteran’s Voice for Jews.”God bless you and your families and this great country.