Gov. Perry's Remarks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 112th National Convention
Thank you Commander Eubank for that introduction, and I'd like to thank you and National President Barnes for your hard work on behalf of this fine organization.
I'd also like to congratulate the incoming National Commander Richard DeNoyer along with the new National President Gwen Rankin who I'm sure will continue to carry the VFW banner high.
Texas is a natural fit for the VFW as our state, and this city in particular, have a deep connection to our nation's military.
We're also home to a great deal of the veterans of our foreign wars.
My father, Ray Perry, is one of them.
He served as a tail-gunner in World War II, taking part in 35 missions over war-torn Europe, helping to liberate millions from tyranny.
When he came home, he sought neither acclaim nor credit, only to live in the peace and freedom he helped create and to farm his little corner of land in Paint Creek, Texas.
His story is not unique, indeed his story was, if anything, representative of an entire generation, the greatest generation who know all about placing country and community ahead of self.
Often we speak in loving terms of the greatest generation...as we should...but I want to say a word to a younger generation of heroes.
They went to war in a time of strife at home.
They did incredibly tough duty not knowing at times when the enemy lurked amongst the civilian population.
They were called to a war that our leaders were not prepared to win because they were not prepared to use the full force of U.S. military power once they sent their sons into battle.
You know these heroes because many of you sit here today; you are the American heroes of Vietnam, and I salute you.
As a former Air Force pilot, who flew tactical airlifters around the globe from 1972 to 1977, I know the credo of the survivors of war: that the only heroes are the ones who never made it back.
But in my eyes, you are all heroes. Every last one of you.
I was never called into battle, but I know some of the names on the Wall, including those who attended my beloved Texas A&M.
Many have visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to find the name of a loved one or a friend.
But for younger generations, I believe there needs to be a stronger connection to those heroes we recognize.
That's why I was the very first governor to publicly support the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center.
The education centers aims to put a picture and a story with each name, and in doing so, it tells future generations that Americans just like them, from their home towns, from their way of life, left it all behind to preserve freedom for the people of South Vietnam.
That Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with 58,260 names etched in black, stands as a stark reminder of the cost of war.
It reminds us that a president should never send our sons and daughters into war without a plan to win, and the resources to make that possible.
In the dangerous world we live in today, our enemies often don't wear a uniform or swear allegiance to a particular flag, but instead to an ideology of hatred.
As the tenth anniversary of the attacks of 9-11 approaches, we must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy, wherever they are, before they strike at home.
I do not believe America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism.
We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened.
And we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom-loving people.
It is not in our interests to go it alone. We respect our allies, and must always seek to engage them in military missions.
At the same time, we must be willing to act when it is time to act.
We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies.
And when our interests are threatened, American soldiers should be led by American commanders.
I say this because we owe to them, and to their loved ones, to make sure any war we wage is led by the country with the most advanced military technology and the best training.
We have the finest fighting force the world has ever known.
We have a generation of heroes who love their nation, and who willingly sacrifice all that we may always be free.
The men and women of the United States Military are the greatest ambassadors of freedom this nation has ever sent abroad.
That's why, when we send them to war, we must give them every weapon and every resource to help them succeed.
And when those heroes come home, many physically scarred, others emotionally...we must devote whatever resources are needed to help them heal and live fulfilling lives.
A great nation cannot turn a blind eye to its wounded warriors.
We should honor them with the best healthcare, with help transitioning back to civilian life, and with jobs.
It pains me to see young men and women come home scarred, feeling isolated and unable to cope with what they have experienced.
These are our precious sons and daughters. They are our newest generation of heroes. They are our own flesh and blood. We must take care of them...every last one of them.
Here in Texas, I am proud to announce a new program today that will be run by the Texas Veterans Commission: "Housing 4 Texas Heroes."
We are now making $3 million in grants available to help Texas veterans build, buy, rehabilitate or rent their homes, or possibly renovate them to meet needs created by a service-related disability.
"Housing 4 Texas Heroes" will help ensure veterans and their families have adequate housing as they ease back into civilian life, and enjoy the blessings of liberty they have earned with their own valor and sacrifice.
I commend all of you for your own sacrifices, your own courage, and your own leadership.
I hope you all have a productive and enjoyable convention, and wish you the best of luck as you work to improve your communities wherever you're from.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless this great country we love so much.
Executive Director, Texas Veterans Commission