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On November 11, 2015 our nation will pause to honor, remember and show our gratitude to all the veterans who have served this nation with honor, dedication, and distinction.
Throughout this month, as we pay tribute to those who have served and sacrificed, I hope each of us will reflect on their service and sacrifice and will reach out to our nation’s veterans to say thank you.
In 2012, President Obama declared that in recognition of a chapter in our nation’s history that we must never forget, our nation will continue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War until Veterans Day in 2025. Let us, as the President said, pay tribute to “the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor.”
The theme for Veterans Day this year is Honor, Remember, and Gratitude. I recently had the honor of joining Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay in laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management. This solemn, moving ceremony encouraged me to consider the sacrifices our veterans – and their families and loved ones – made, and the impact they have had on our nation.
At OPM, one way we honor our veterans is by continuing our commitment to the President’s Veterans Employment Initiative. As the vice-chair of the Council of Veterans Employment, I plan to continue to lead our effort to recruit, hire, and retain veterans who want to continue their service to their country in civilian life.
Thank you. Thank you to every veteran for your dedication and for your sacrifice. And a special thank you to all of the Federal employees who – after answering the call in the Armed Services – decided to continue to serve America by joining the Federal workforce.
We all have a loved one who served in the military. Their stories teach us, inspire us, and remind us of what our country stands for. They teach us about sacrifice, about courage, and about determination.
That is why Veterans Day is so important and also so personal. It’s a day to remember those who sacrificed everything to serve our great country. For me, it’s a time for me to remember and to honor the sacrifices of my brother. When he returned home from service in the Vietnam War, I was still very young. He never talked about the hardships of his service, even as we grew older together. And while it was hard for me to accept that I will never know everything there is to know about my brother, I also realize that his silence is his story. And I accept and honor that.
This year is the fifth anniversary of President Obama's signing of the Executive Order on Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government. The EO made helping veterans transitioning into civilian Federal employment a top priority, and since then, we have made tremendous progress. According to OPM’s report, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Executive Branch for FY 2013, 24 percent of total hires government-wide were veterans in 2009 and that rate increased to 31 percent in 2013. That is the highest percentage of veterans since the mid-1970s. It’s a great accomplishment. But we still have more work to do.
We have veterans transitioning to civilian life from service in Iraq, Afghanistan and other postings following several years – and often multiple tours of duty – during the war on terrorism. They bring home with them a wealth of skill, talent, and expertise, not to mention such workplace intangibles as self-discipline, work ethic and team-minded approaches to solving problems. Many of them have whole careers ahead of them still, and they want to continue to serve their country. I am absolutely committed as the Director of OPM to making sure that we give these veterans, who served their country so nobly in the military, a chance use their skills and their talents to continue their mission of service. I know that we are better for it.
This year, I think about my brother and how proud I am of him. And I think about, and honor, all you who have served in the military and who are continuing to serve in the Federal government. Keep sharing your stories. We need to hear them.
For the full text of the Proclamation, click here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/05/presidential-proclamation-veterans-day-2013.
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