Manchin to ROTC Cadets: You Represent the Best of Who We Are
Senator also promotes ‘I Hire Veterans’ project
Manchin also says ROTC cadets should know their country will be there for them after they have completed their service
Washington, D.C. — On the third day of his “Fighting for Every Job” tour, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) addressed West Virginia University’s ROTC cadets at the annual Army and Air Force Scholarship luncheon and promoted his “I Hire Veterans” project.
“You will soon join the ranks of a very small, very important and dedicated group. In your generation for example, take any random group of 100 people. In that group, there is only one person who will choose to wear the uniform of this country. Sometimes not even one,” Senator Manchin said. “But you are that person. You will be one of the brave men and women who raise their right hand and pledge allegiance to protect and strengthen our country in the interest of the common good, rather than what is good for the individual. You represent the very best of who we are.”
In his address, Manchin spoke about the number one crisis facing veterans at this time: unemployment. He and his colleague Republican Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois started the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus’ “I Hire Veterans” initiative to fill the gaps they saw in the many public programs and efforts that currently exist to get veterans who are separating from the armed services connected with good jobs. The goal of the caucus, which now has 29 Democratic and Republican members, is to raise awareness about the incredible skill sets our veterans have to offer and the urgent need to get them into the workplace. It’s about making a public and personal commitment to hiring veterans.
Also today, Senator Manchin delivered remarks to Leadership Marion members, participated in Marion County Chamber of Commerce’s “Coffee with Congress” event. This afternoon, he will speak at the Dynamic Networking for Small Businesses event.
During his two-week “Fighting for Every Job” tour, Senator Manchin is traveling all over West Virginia to highlight the connection between jobs and energy independence, his agenda to help small businesses succeed, how to revitalize American manufacturing, the importance of training our workforce through higher education, and his growing effort to hire unemployed veterans.
The full text of Senator Manchin’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, is included below:
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to talk to this fine group of cadets, who will soon embark on the job of a lifetime.
All of you have volunteered to enter a profession of arms during wartime.
You have volunteered to travel to distant lands, to stand up for what is right in the face of adversity, to lead under the most challenging of circumstances.
You will soon join the ranks of a very small, very important and dedicated group. In your generation for example, take any random group of 100 people. In that group, there is only one person who will choose to wear the uniform of this country.
Sometimes not even one.
But you are that person. You will be one of the brave men and women who raise their right hand and pledge allegiance to protect and strengthen our country in the interest of the common good, rather than what is good for the individual.
You represent the very best of who we are.
A good example is Cadet David Collins, the commander of the Mountaineer Battalion, who will soon enter the Army as an Infantry officer.
Cadet Collins is a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship, and not only will he graduate with a double major, he is an All-American athlete.
Before coming to WVU, he served as a soldier and leader in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment – the same unit that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
And while he was with the Ranger Regiment, he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan three times. He was wounded in combat and received a Purple Heart.
But he didn’t quit after that. He didn’t let his injuries defeat him. He decided to go back to school so that he could become an officer and continue to fight for the common good, to give back to the country that he’s already given so much for.
Young Americans like Cadet David Collins are the future of this nation. Hard work, persistence in the face of adversity – those are the traits that keep this country great.
For all of you, your road to commissioning does not come easy. I know that because my senior policy advisor is a graduate of WVU Army ROTC.
Many years ago, she sat where you are now – she was the commander and the sergeant major of the Mountaineer Battalion.
She has told me about the rigors of being a cadet – the early morning “pt” sessions; the summers away at Airborne school; the leadership training at far away bases and the frigid-cold field exercises at Camp Dawson.
Becoming a military officer is not easy. It is not a job where you submit a resume and wait to hear back. You dedicate years to prepare to lead in the military.
That is for good reason. Someday soon, you will be entrusted with the lives of soldiers and airmen.
And once your duty is done, a grateful nation will wait to welcome you back into the civilian world, and will give you the benefits that you have earned and deserve.
Unfortunately, right now, too many of our veterans are not receiving the proper welcome back to the civilian ranks.
Too many of our veterans and National Guardsmen are unemployed.
And when I address another ROTC scholarship luncheon in the future, I hope that we have fixed this terrible problem.
That’s why my friend Senator Mark Kirk – a Republican from Illinois – and I said: “Enough.”
Too many bright, dedicated and talented men and women, just like you, who have served their country, are still looking for work.
We started the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus in February as an effort that could complement everything else that’s out there and fill the gaps that we saw.
When we looked at all the different ideas that have been put in place to help our veterans find jobs, there was one major piece missing: public awareness.
We have to do more than talk to the talk, we all have to walk the walk.
You can see the logo behind me, and you’ll see the logo in businesses that hire veterans. Like a yellow ribbon or a flying flag – this symbol shows you that America appreciates you.
I hope you and your families do business with businesses that display this logo. I know that I will. And if you’re interested in putting this logo up, you can go to my web site or call my office: manchin.senate.gov.
I hope more Americans do the same, to show you our appreciation.
And that comes with good reason.
You are the ones who run to the sound of danger, who sacrifice personal safety for the national security of our country and who dedicate your lives in service to this great country.
It’s an honor to share some time with you today, and to be a part in recognizing the achievements of 20 very special cadets.
Always remember your unit motto, “Mountaineers Lead the Way.”
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