Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry Remarks at the Lone Survivor Dinner

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Saturday, September 17, 2011  •  Houston, Texas  •  Speech

Thank you, US Navy SEAL (Ret.) Marcus Luttrell for that introduction and for everything you've done in service to your country and your fellow veterans.

Marcus is a highly-decorated veteran but through it all, he's consistently refused the label "hero" for his valor on the battlefield.

We've disagreed on that point quite a few times in the past.

However, let me say now, Marcus, that your most recent efforts in the creation of the Lone Survivor Foundation once again demonstrate the true American hero you are.

It's my honor to be here tonight in the presence of so many who have laid their lives on the line in defense of their fellow Americans and the family members who supported them through the difficult months and years of their loved one's deployment.

When you consider the many changes our nation has been through over the generations it's remarkable that, through it all, we've always been able to count on a special breed of citizen willing to step forward during times of strife and take their place on the all-too-dangerous line between us, and those who would cause us harm.

A direct line can be drawn from those who braved the worst of conditions and the most determined of enemies...from Gen. Washington at Valley Forge to those who stormed the beaches at Normandy to those scaling the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan, hunting down the terrorists who continue to plot the deaths of Americans, home and abroad.

Indeed, thanks to the courage and determination of Marcus' brothers in the Navy SEALs there's one...in particular...who will no longer threaten the United States of America.

Our nation owes yet another debt of gratitude to the anonymous SEALs who brought bin Laden to justice along with the members of our military and national intelligence operations, toiling in secret, who uncovered his ultimate hiding place.

The last year or so has been a collection of highs and lows when it comes to our efforts overseas.

Just months ago, we came together as a nation to welcome the news of bin Laden's death.

A short time later, we gathered as a family to mourn the loss of 30 of our nation's best including 22 SEALs when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents.

As always, however, Americans face the worst of challenges head on and never let them stop us because that's part of our national character.

And nowhere is the character of our country most clearly found than in the courage and dedication of our veterans.

Our society is blessed with faithful, determined and effective men and women of all walks of life who consistently make a difference in the lives of others who make public service their life's calling.

There is no higher form of public service than wearing the uniform of our country.

It's a level of service that requires everything you can give every day of your life.

As any recruit can tell you from the first days of basic training the military pushes you to your very limits and beyond.

It pushes you to find the place where your body can match the demands of your spirit and where your endurance can sustain the power of your courage and love of country.

That's why the United States military has no match on any battlefield.

For the members of our military, however, the return home, can be every bit as trying as anything that happens in uniform.

Returning from war, our veterans come home to a place instantly recognizable yet significantly different from the place they left behind.

Loved ones must learn to reconnect with one another and become families again.

Fathers and mothers return home to children they haven't seen in months maybe years.
And the relatively mundane demands of living life away from the front lines finding a job reestablishing a career even paying the bills can suddenly seem overwhelming.

Texas is home to tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines each one a hero, and each one deserving of a hero's welcome at the end of their service.

And when their tour of duty is done... the honoring of that service must not end.

Just as we owe them our very best when we send them to war we owe them our very best when they come home.

For those returning home bearing scars some physical...others hidden we must devote whatever resources are necessary to help them heal and live fulfilling lives.

For all of them, we owe them our best efforts to help them find work connecting them with employers in need of their enhanced skills and exceptional leadership.

These are our precious sons and daughters.

They are our own flesh and blood. We must take care of them...every last one of them.

Organizations like The Lone Survivor Foundation are part of helping us meet that obligation but the state has a role to play, as well.

Here in Texas, we've invested in programs to provide emotional support to returning veterans to help cut the red tape they may encounter with the bureaucracy with the VA and make it easier for them to earn college credit for what their experiences have already taught them.

We've made funds available to help veterans find housing or to repair or renovate their existing home to accommodate a service-related disability.

We've made sure 100-percent disabled veterans pay no property tax and with a vote this November, will enable them to pass that exemption on to their surviving spouses.

I'm also proud to say that Texas is the nation's top state when it comes to finding work for our veterans and just this week the Texas Veterans Commission announced they had helped nearly 40,000 of our state's veterans enter our workforce over the past year.

We make these commitments because, here in Texas, we realize how lucky we are to have our courageous young men and women as soldiers, sailors, Marines, SEALs, airmen and Coast Guardsmen willing to go boldly into harm's way for the cause of liberty.

To our veterans we recall your sacrifice, we honor your service and we pledge to never waver in our commitment to you and the freedom you fought for.

As Texans, as Americans, as human beings, we can do nothing less.

Thank you again for having me here tonight.

May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas, and this country we love so much.

 

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