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Governor Schwarzenegger Discusses Veterans

Governor Schwarzenegger was Tuesday’s KVML "Newsmaker of the Day". Here are his words:

"Veterans Day is a day that I hold dear, because I treasure the liberty and the opportunity that I’ve found in this country; as an immigrant you can probably appreciate it even more than when you’re born here. And we all know that this country is the greatest country in the world because men and women, brave men and women, have fought for the last few hundred years to make sure that we have this liberty and all these opportunities and the freedom here in this country. So because of that I treasure this country but I even more so treasure the people who protected it.

So this is why I wanted to make Veterans Day 2009, an extra special celebration for our veterans, especially our 2.1 million veterans that are right here from our great state of California. Right now we remain at war in Afghanistan and in Iraq and nearly one out of nine men and women that are serving in the armed forces of the United States are right here from California. So we must always ask ourselves, what is our commitment to them? How are we serving them, who risk their lives for each one of us and who leave their families and their homes so that we can enjoy the comfort and security of ours?

So obviously, when I became governor, this was the first thing on my mind. I started thinking, I want to do everything that I can to give back to those who risk everything for us. So as soon as I was elected my administration jumped into action and six years later we haven’t stopped working for our veterans. Just to give you some of the things that we have accomplished in these last six years:

We have made the largest investment in veterans’ homes in California’s history, totaling $321 million in federal and state funds and we have nearly completed homes now in Lancaster and in Ventura and we will also open a home right here in west Los Angeles next year in 2010. And talking about 2010, we will also break ground for two new homes in Fresno and in Redding.

Housing is so important to our veterans. I just again today read that there are 130,000 veterans that are homeless. That is inexcusable and we have to do something about that. And that’s why I also fought to expand the CalVet Home Loan Program to all of our veterans and now low interest rate mortgages are available for every veteran, including veterans from Desert Storm, from Afghanistan and Iraq.

And I also know that jobs are very crucial to people. If you’re a veteran or not, jobs are very important but especially for our vets who we are welcoming home and who are transitioning back to civilian life. That is why we created the Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet Program and since 2007 we have connected 9,500 veterans with employers, with schools and with training resources and much more. We have also made it easier for our veterans to get civil service jobs and for our National Guard members to become state employees. And we improved disabled veterans participation in our state contracts. And last year we also identified $9 million in grants to help newly discharged veterans find employment.

And today we are announcing another special announcement, we are making an announcement that $5 million in grants for job training will be available again for employment and for mental health services. That is coming up from right now.

We also created a pioneering website called ‘Network of Care for our Veterans,’ which has become the national model. California veterans now have a one-stop way to find almost anything that they need on the national, on the state and on the local level and we have urged other states to do exactly the same thing and to create this kind of website.

This is how we show our respect. This is how we show our gratitude and that’s how I show my gratitude and respect and to say thank you to the veterans for their commitment and for their service and for their sacrifice.

But let me tell you, let’s not pat ourselves on the shoulder here and say we have done the job, because there is much more work that is ahead of us. We have to work tirelessly on the tremendous suicide rate that is amongst veterans. We read it all the time, the homelessness that exists, as I mentioned earlier, or the stress disorder that exists. More than 20 percent of our veterans come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and suffer from this stress disorder. We have to do something about it, we can’t just shove this whole thing under the rug. If you pick up the L.A. Times today you will find stories from the front to the back, all the way through, stories about our Vietnam veterans and especially about our war veterans that have come back from Afghanistan and from Iraq and the kind of suffering that goes on and the kind of work that still lies ahead. So this is why it is very important for us to all work together and to move forward and to solve those problems.

But today we celebrate every person who has ever worn the uniform and their families as well, because they serve as well. Today we want to take this special day to say thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of the veterans and to all of them that served. You have done an extraordinary job. But let’s not only thank them today. Every day of the year we honor your dedication, we honor your action, we honor your bravery, we honor your service, we honor your selflessness and we honor your sacrifice. We honor you.

And of course I also want to just briefly, in the end, mention something about the tragedy at Fort Hood. Today we also should pray for those who died last week in this senseless shooting at Fort Hood. Maria and I, we want to let everyone know that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their families and with their friends.

So God bless all of you and God bless America. Thank you very much."

The "Newsmaker of the Day" is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.

Written by mark@mlode.com