The term “American veteran” is a badge of honor that connects the best group of ex-service members the world has ever known, and today we commemorate them and the generations of heroes who earned that honor. Our brave service members have made it possible for us to live up to the ideals of liberty and equality, democracy and justice, and opportunity and hope that define the United States of America. What we owe them is immeasurable, and it’s impossible for us to ever pay it back in full.
The Bidens have special connections to Veterans Day. Both the joy and the heartache of having a child serve their country in uniform are something we understand. We understand what it’s like to hope for someone you care about every day that they’ll come home safely. And we have looked up in amazement at our war-wounded veterans. We promise to never forget the sacrifices made by military families and to never give up seeking justice for our missing service members and prisoners of war. In my capacity as both a parent and the nation’s chief executive, I am convinced that the only thing more important than protecting our citizens from harm is taking care of the brave men and women we send into battle.
Thus, it was with great honor that I signed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act), the largest increase in support for our veterans in more than three decades. The PACT Act delivers on a commitment to our nation’s veterans, as its name implies. Veterans who were exposed to toxic substances while serving our country are deserving of our thanks and our gratitude can be shown through the provision of life insurance, home loan assistance, educational benefits, and monthly stipends, as well as the construction of new facilities and the funding of improved research. This law complements others I’ve signed this year to better veterans’ health care, including ones that mandate mammograms and screenings for service members exposed to toxins and ones that compensate veterans who developed cancer and other medical conditions as a result of our World War II nuclear program. Joining Forces, an initiative launched by the First Lady, is assisting military spouses in finding employment, providing academic support for children of service members, and providing families with access to medical, psychological, and social support in order to fulfill our sacred obligation to veteran families, caregivers, and survivors.
When it comes to ending veteran suicide and veteran homelessness, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) isn’t the only Federal agency working around the clock. Funding community-led suicide prevention programs that meet veterans where they are, raising public awareness about the importance of firearm storage in preventing suicides, and requesting billions more from Congress to improve mental health care services across the country are all part of the VA’s comprehensive public health strategy that was released last year. Meanwhile, the VA is on schedule to permanently house 38,000 homeless veterans this year thanks to funds from my American Rescue Plan.
To keep our nation’s word to our veterans and military families, we must make sure that all service members, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion, feel welcome and appreciated in the military. Since taking office, I have implemented historic changes to the military justice system to better protect active-duty military personnel and veterans from sexual assault and harassment. Secretary McDonough has declared a zero-tolerance policy on harassment and sexual assault inside the Department of Veterans Affairs. This includes both sexual harassment and harassment based on a person’s gender. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has also declared it a top mission to eliminate sexual assault and restore faith in the military justice system. We also ordered a review of all rules and practices to encourage greater inclusion of LGBTQ+ veterans and overturned the discriminatory restriction on transgender service.
Veterans of the United States have always been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ideals of freedom, justice, and democracy that we cherish. They have served without expecting anything in return, made significant sacrifices, and quietly carried a load of freedom. Let us remember those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom by serving others, caring for our neighbors, and working tirelessly to make our country more unified and just.
The Congress has decreed (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that the eleventh day of November of each year should be set aside as a legal public holiday to celebrate our Nation’s veterans in recognition of the sacrifices they and their families have made for the cause of peace and freedom around the world.
As President of the United States of America, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., hereby declare November 11, 2022, Veterans Day. Veterans Day is a time to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans, and I hope that every citizen will take a moment to stand in respectful silence for our nation’s heroes for two minutes. Furthermore, I encourage all elected officials at all levels to fly the American flag and support local acts of patriotism.
Hereby I have set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and forty-seventh.