The Vice President’s Residence
9:36 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you, Secretary Shulkin. And could you give the Secretary of the VA another round of applause? He has heart for our veterans. (Applause.)
David, thank you for those kind words. Thank you for all the efforts that you do. I am here with my commanding officer. (Laughter.) And we are incredibly honored to host Project Hero back at the home of the Vice President of the United States on this Memorial Day. (Applause.)
It’s written if you owe debts, pay debts. If honor, then honor. If respect, then respect. And there is a day in November when we remember those who served and came home. But I know all of you know better than I ever will that this is a day we remember those who served and did not come home.
And to be able to welcome you heroes here, all of you who have worn the uniform of the United States and many of whom have worn the uniform of law enforcement and have borne in your own bodies and in your own minds the burdens that come with that service, to be able to welcome you here on this most hallowed of days is profoundly humbling to Karen and I.
And so I say to each one of you, thank you for your service. You make this place better for you being here today, and you honor us all. (Applause.)
It is Memorial Day 2017. Their duty was to serve, our duty is to remember. And I want thank Project Hero and John and all the organizers who are here that have marked this day in particular for this ride as a part of the ongoing tribute. We’ll be joining the President in just a few moments at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath, say a prayer, and remember our fallen.
You all will be engaged in a much more energetic activity. (Laughter.) And Karen and I have to tell you, we’re just a little bit jealous because we’re bikers. (Applause.) We are. And we’d love to ride with you.
Especially the first five miles that are all downhill, is that right, General? (Laughter.) That’s what I heard. But you go with our prayers and you go with our thanks. All the sponsors of Project Hero and all that’s brought all of you here today.
And let me say to all of you it’s the greatest privilege of my life to be Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces and the veterans of the United States, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The President just returned from an extraordinary trip in Europe where he met with world leaders, but he punctuated that trip meeting with troops in Italy. And he said, it now falls to us — in his words — to prove worthy of their sacrifice.
And that’s our ongoing challenge as Americans, isn’t it? Is to be as good as those we remember, particularly on this day.
I think the work of Project Hero is a way that we honor all those who’ve served in a unique way. Since its founding in 2008, you’ve brought renewed attention to those heroes suffering from their time of service. Not all of the wounds from war are visible. And Project Hero’s extraordinary efforts to create community around cycling has healed hearts and healed minds across this country. And we commend the organizers and commend the sponsors.
It is heartbreaking to think today that as many as one in five veterans has PTSD, and over 340,000 servicemembers received a traumatic brain injury. It makes all the more important the work of Project Hero and organizations like this that are coming alongside men and women who have served in the uniform of the United States, or in your case, in the uniform of law enforcement to give comfort and strength to those who are healing from those unseen wounds.
Project Hero really proves that anything is possible for those that believe in one another and are willing to be there for one another.
I also want to thank Secretary Shulkin for his extraordinary efforts in fighting tirelessly to finally give the veterans of the United States the healthcare they’ve earned and deserved in uniform. (Applause.)
I’m pleased to report to you that just last month President Trump signed an executive order to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs is effective and accountable. And the President also signed into law the Veterans Choice Improvement Act to ensure that our heroes have access to the choices they deserve and the world-class healthcare that you’ve earned.
So I hope all of you see today and the hospitality that we have extended as just one more token of the gratitude of all of the American people for the service that’s represented here. We wish you Godspeed, safe travels, all the way to Virginia Beach. And for Project Hero and all of those that it helps, all the way to a full recovery in an America that cherishes all those who serve.
Thank you very much. God bless you. It’s a great, great honor to be with you here and to welcome you here today. (Applause.)
9:43 A.M. EDT