Tag Archives: Military

First Lady Michelle Obama Launches New Lodging For Families Of Ailing Vets

Posted by: Audiegrl

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama has helped open three new residences for families of ailing U.S. soldiers and veterans in Maryland.

Mrs. Obama cut the red ribbon Thursday for the Fisher Houses at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. She was flanked by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Ken Fisher of the Fisher House Foundation.

Obama says the homes provide a comfortable place for families who have made a sacrifice for their country.

The residences will provide free lodging for the families of as many as 60 sick and injured service members.

The Rockville-based foundation has built dozens of Fisher Houses at military facilities since 1991.

The new residences are part of the planned move of Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Washington to Bethesda next year.

Remarks by the First Lady at Fisher House Tour and Ribbon Cutting

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Medal of Honor for Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Jesse Lee

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta and his wife Jennifer Mueller in the Oval Office, Nov. 16, 2010. Later, the President presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Giunta for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, in October 2007. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon in the East Room of the White House, the President presented the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry to Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, U.S. Army — the first living service member from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars to receive it.  “Now, I’m going to go off-script here for a second and just say I really like this guy,” said the President to laughter and applause.  “I think anybody — we all just get a sense of people and who they are, and when you meet Sal and you meet his family, you are just absolutely convinced that this is what America is all about.”


As the President always does, he recounted the story of the events that earned  this honor, and as always it needs no editorial embellishment:

During the first of his two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Giunta was forced early on to come to terms with the loss of comrades and friends.  His team leader at the time gave him a piece of advice:  “You just try — you just got to try to do everything you can when it’s your time to do it.”  You’ve just got to try to do everything you can when it’s your time to do it.

Salvatore Giunta’s time came on October 25, 2007.  He was a Specialist then, just 22 years old.

Sal and his platoon were several days into a mission in the Korengal Valley — the most dangerous valley in northeast Afghanistan.  The moon was full.  The light it cast was enough to travel by without using their night-vision goggles.  With heavy gear on their backs, and air support overhead, they made their way single file down a rocky ridge crest, along terrain so steep that sliding was sometimes easier than walking.

They hadn’t traveled a quarter mile before the silence was shattered.  It was an ambush, so close that the cracks of the guns and the whizz of the bullets were simultaneous.  Tracer fire hammered the ridge at hundreds of rounds per minute — “more,” Sal said later, “than the stars in the sky.”

The Apache gunships above saw it all, but couldn’t engage with the enemy so close to our soldiers.  The next platoon heard the shooting, but were too far away to join the fight in time.

And the two lead men were hit by enemy fire and knocked down instantly.  When the third was struck in the helmet and fell to the ground, Sal charged headlong into the wall of bullets to pull him to safety behind what little cover there was.  As he did, Sal was hit twice — one round slamming into his body armor, the other shattering a weapon slung across his back.

They were pinned down, and two wounded Americans still lay up ahead.  So Sal and his comrades regrouped and counterattacked.  They threw grenades, using the explosions as cover to run forward, shooting at the muzzle flashes still erupting from the trees.  Then they did it again.  And again.  Throwing grenades, charging ahead.  Finally, they reached one of their men.  He’d been shot twice in the leg, but he had kept returning fire until his gun jammed.

As another soldier tended to his wounds, Sal sprinted ahead, at every step meeting relentless enemy fire with his own.  He crested a hill alone, with no cover but the dust kicked up by the storm of bullets still biting into the ground.  There, he saw a chilling sight:  the silhouettes of two insurgents carrying the other wounded American away — who happened to be one of Sal’s best friends.  Sal never broke stride.  He leapt forward.  He took aim.  He killed one of the insurgents and wounded the other, who ran off.

Sal found his friend alive, but badly wounded.  Sal had saved him from the enemy — now he had to try to save his life.  Even as bullets impacted all around him, Sal grabbed his friend by the vest and dragged him to cover.  For nearly half an hour, Sal worked to stop the bleeding and help his friend breathe until the MEDEVAC arrived to lift the wounded from the ridge.  American gunships worked to clear the enemy from the hills.  And with the battle over, First Platoon picked up their gear and resumed their march through the valley.  They continued their mission.

It had been as intense and violent a firefight as any soldier will experience.  By the time it was finished, every member of First Platoon had shrapnel or a bullet hole in their gear.  Five were wounded.  And two gave their lives:  Sal’s friend, Sergeant Joshua C. Brennan, and the platoon medic, Specialist Hugo V. Mendoza.

Now, the parents of Joshua and Hugo are here today.  And I know that there are no words that, even three years later, can ease the ache in your hearts or repay the debt that America owes to you.  But on behalf of a grateful nation, let me express profound thanks to your sons’ service and their sacrifice.  And could the parents of Joshua and Hugo please stand briefly?  (Applause.)

Now, I already mentioned I like this guy, Sal.  And as I found out myself when I first spoke with him on the phone and when we met in the Oval Office today, he is a low-key guy, a humble guy, and he doesn’t seek the limelight.  And he’ll tell you that he didn’t do anything special; that he was just doing his job; that any of his brothers in the unit would do the same thing.  In fact, he just lived up to what his team leader instructed him to do years before:  “You do everything you can.”

Staff Sergeant Giunta, repeatedly and without hesitation, you charged forward through extreme enemy fire, embodying the warrior ethos that says, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”  Your actions disrupted a devastating ambush before it could claim more lives.  Your courage prevented the capture of an American soldier and brought that soldier back to his family.  You may believe that you don’t deserve this honor, but it was your fellow soldiers who recommended you for it.  In fact, your commander specifically said in his recommendation that you lived up to the standards of the most decorated American soldier of World War II, Audie Murphy, who famously repelled an overwhelming enemy attack by himself for one simple reason:  “They were killing my friends.”

That’s why Salvatore Giunta risked his life for his fellow soldiers — because they would risk their lives for him.  That’s what fueled his bravery — not just the urgent impulse to have their backs, but the absolute confidence that they had his.  One of them, Sal has said — of these young men that he was with, he said, “They are just as much of me as I am.”  They are just as much of me as I am.

So I would ask Sal’s team, all of Battle Company who were with him that day, to please stand and be recognized as well.  (Applause.)  Gentlemen, thank you for your service.  We’re all in your debt.  And I’m proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.

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Celebrating Independence Day at the White House and in Iraq

Posted by: Audiegrl

Today, President Obama and First Lady Michelle hosted more than 1,200 military heroes and their families for an Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the White House. The “Salute to the Military” USO Concert included performances by The Killers, Cedric “The Entertainer,” and Brandi Carlile, and “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band. The evening wraped up with a viewing of the fireworks on the National Mall.

In case you missed it, watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s video message about supporting our military families on Independence Day.

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Celebrating the Fourth of July with Our Troops in Iraq
Written by Dr. Jill Biden

Vice President Joe Biden, center, congratulates a soldier on becoming a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony in Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq. Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, left, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, also attended the event during which more than 150 U.S. servicemembers became U.S. citizens. July 4, 2010. (by Elaine Wilson)

Last night, my husband Joe and I flew to Iraq to celebrate the Fourth of July with our troops. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than spending it with Americans who are bravely serving our country.

This morning we participated in a naturalization ceremony for about 150 of our soldiers serving here in Iraq. I was honored to be part of this special day with so many brave men and women who have been volunteering to fight for our country even before they took the oath of citizenship.

U.S. troops take the citizenship oath during a naturalization ceremony in Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq. More than 150 servicemembers became citizens in a ceremony attended by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden. July 4, 2010. (by Elaine Wilson)

Afterwards, I had lunch with several women soldiers who told me about their experiences serving in Iraq. Many of them are mothers, and one of them is married to a soldier who is also deployed. They are managing all the challenges of parenting – securing health care, child care and education – while one or both parents are away.

It’s not easy to be away from loved ones – especially over the holidays. So please, take a minute today and give thanks to our military families serving this Nation around the world.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, and may God protect our troops.

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, shares lunch with female soldiers at the Oasis Dining Facility on Camp Victory, Iraq. Biden spoke with the soldiers about their family-related issues and concerns. July 4, 2010. (by Elaine Wilson)

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Fireworks begin as The Killers play on the South Lawn of the White House during the Fourth of July celebration. July 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the roof of the White House. July 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Camp Pendleton

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Shulman

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks to Marines and their families at Camp Pendleton in California. June 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

It’s become one of my defining missions as First Lady, and that’s to help the rest of our country better understand and appreciate the incredible service of you and your families, and to make sure that your voices are heard back in Washington and that your needs are met, and to make sure that we realize our vision of an America that truly supports and engages our military families. That’s why I’m here,” said Mrs. Obama to a crowd of 3,500 Marines, sailors and their family members at Camp Pendleton, California.

Given all that the service members and their families do to take care of America, The First Lady emphasized every American’s a responsibility to do their part. That’s why she issued a national challenge to every sector of society to take action to support and engage our military families — not just now, but for years to come:

We have to build the capacity to support you and your families at every stage of your lives. But to do this, we need a truly national commitment — no one can sit on the sidelines. One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but 100 percent of Americans need to be supporting you in that fight.

The First Lady also paid tribute to all fallen heroes, including Camp Pendleton Marines who gave their lives just this past week: Sergeant Brandon Bury. Lance Corporal Derek Hernandez. Corporal Donald Marler. Sergeant John Rankel. Lance Corporal Michael Plank.

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President Obama Signs the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama signs the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act in the State Dining Room of the White House May 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. The act will improve health care services for veterans and expand caregiver benefits and training. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

AP~President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act that improves health care services for veterans and provides assistance and training to those who provide care to wounded warriors. Extra help is on the way for family members who give up their jobs to become caregivers for severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, courtesy of the landmark bill.

The bill, estimated to cost $3.7 billion over five years, also expands veterans care for women, the homeless, and those who live in rural areas.

Standing behind Obama at the White House signing was Ted Wade, 32, who lost his right arm and sustained a traumatic brain injury in a roadside bombing in Iraq in 2004 while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. Wade smiled and grasped the hand of his wife, Sarah, as she wiped a tear.

“These caregivers put their own lives on hold, their own careers and dreams aside, to care for a loved one. They do it every day around the clock,” Obama said. “As Sarah can tell you, it’s hard physically and it’s hard emotionally. It’s certainly hard financially.”

President Obama hugs Sarah Wade, wife of Ted Wade after signing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act in the State Dining Room of the White House May 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. The act will improve health care services for veterans and expand caregiver benefits and training. (Photos by Pool/Getty Images North America)

The Wades lobbied for the legislation on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, one of several veterans service organizations that pushed for more support for caregivers out of concern that the wounded were going to institutions because parents, spouses, and other family members couldn’t afford to take care of them.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, also attended along with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and several members of Congress.

Under the bill, caregivers of the estimated 2,000 severely wounded veterans from the recent conflicts are eligible for training, a monthly stipend and health care.

Caregivers of veterans from other eras receive more limited benefits. But the VA secretary under the law must report on the possibility of expanding benefits to them within two years.

The bill also expands care in other ways. It instructs the VA to create a childcare pilot program; offer post-delivery care to female veterans’ newborns; and work with the Pentagon on a study on veterans suicide.

Full remarks by the President

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Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride Starts at White House

Posted by: BuellBoy

Dr. Jill Biden and her husband, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, arrive to start the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride on the South Lawn April 28, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden speak to participants in the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride on the South Lawn of the White House. The ride benefits the Wounded Warrior Projects efforts to provide rehabilitation for wounded soliders and to raise public awareness for the cause.

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President Obama Holds Naturalization Ceremony for U.S. Service Members

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama salutes Sgt. Ledum Ndaanee, recipient of the Outstanding American by Choice Recognition award, following a ceremony for the administration of a military naturalization oath in the Rose Garden of the White House April 23, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama also delivered remarks touching on immigration issues following the ceremony. (Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

President Obama speaks at a naturalization ceremony for 24 members of the United States Armed Forces. The ceremony recognizes the contributions made by immigrant members of the U.S. armed forces who have earned their American citizenship through service to our country, and the contributions immigrants from all walks of life have made to our country throughout its history. Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) presents the home countries of the candidates for citizenship, and DHS Secy. Janet Napolitano administers the oath of citizenship. President Obama also presents Sgt. Ledum Ndaanee, USMC (E-5) with the Outstanding American by Choice recognition, which highlights the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens.

Background on Naturalization Ceremony for Service Members

Remarks by the President at Naturalization Ceremony for Active-Duty Service Members

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden: Month of the Military Child

Supporting military families is a top Obama Administration priority. April is Month of the Military Child and gives the nation the opportunity to recognize the character, strength and sacrifices of America’s military children as well as the role they play in the armed forces community. Today, there are 1.7 million American children and youth under 18-years-old with a parent serving in the military and approximately 900,000 children and youth with one or both parents deployed multiple times. Learn more about the Month of the Military Child here.

Watch the video of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk about the important role military children play in the armed forces community:

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General Petraeus On DADT: “The Time Has Come”

Posted by: Bluedog89

from The Huffington Post

CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus came to the meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee preparing to deliver an “eight-minute statement” expressing his personal feelings about the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. Unfortunately, Senator Carl Levin, who chaired the committee, put the kibosh on those plans, citing time constraints. Instead Petraeus simply told the committee that “the time has come” to give a repeal some due consideration. Petraeus endorsed the ongoing review of the matter that commenced at the direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

General David Petraeus told a congressional committee that "the time has come" to consider repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

PETRAEUS: I believe the time has come to consider a change to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But I think it should be done in a thoughtful and deliberative matter that should include the conduct of the review that Secretary Gates has directed that would consider the views in the force on the change of policy. It would include an assessment of the likely effects on recruiting, retention, morale and cohesion and would include an identification of what policies might be needed in the event of a change and recommend those polices as well.

Of Levin’s decision decision to disallow Petraeus’s longer statement, The Hill‘s Roxana Tiron reports:

Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) did not allow Petraeus to deliver his statement after ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked the general whether he believed thorough review was necessary before “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed. Levin’s reason: the committee rule on Tuesday was only a six-minute round of questions and answers for each senator.

Petraeus averred that repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is “not a sound-bite issue,” so it’s unfortunate that this is where we’re left today.

Back on February 21 of this year, Petraeus took up the matter with David Gregory on “Meet The Press”:

GREGORY: Do you think soldiers on the ground in the field care one way or the other if their comrade in arms are gay or lesbian?PETRAEUS: I’m not sure that they do. … You heard Gen. Powell who was the chairman when the policy was implemented, had a big hand in that, who said that yes, indeed, the earth has revolved around the sun a number of times since that period 15 months ago. You have heard a variety of anecdotal input. We have experienced certainly in the CIA and the FBI — I know, I served, in fact, in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations. Frankly, you know, over time you said, hey, how’s this guy shooting or how is her analysis or what have you?

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Gordon Brown Calls On America To Repeal DADT, Calls UK LGBT Soldiers ‘The Pride Of Our Country

Posted by: Betsm

Gordon Brown speaks at reception at Downing Street to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History Month, 24 February 2010; Crown copyright

ThinkProgress/Amanda Turkel~As conservatives in the United States try to argue that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) would lead to all sorts of horrors like an increase in “body art,” natural disasters, and a reinstatement of the draft, British citizens are serving comfortably alongside openly gay men and women. Yesterday at a reception at Number 10 Downing Street to celebrate February’s LGBT History Month, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown underscored the country’s more progressive position. Brown singled out the lesbians, gays and bisexuals from the Army, Navy and Air Force who attended the event in uniform. He told them: “You are the pride of our country and we thank you very much. We know this debate continues in America today. I would say to people who still favour ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, look at our experience in Britain.”

Brown also hosted a reception for LGBT History Month last year, when he slammed California’s Prop. 8 as “unacceptable.”

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Gordon Brown hosts a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History Month, 24 February 2010; Crown copyright

Gordon Brown hosts a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History Month, 24 February 2010; Crown copyright

Gordon Brown promises gay people they ‘will not have to walk alone

Pink News/Jessica Green~Prime minister Gordon Brown paid tribute last night to gay and lesbian members of the armed forces at a reception to mark the contribution of the LGBT community for Britain.

He told guests at 10 Downing Street, including a number of gay servicemembers, that there was a “debt of gratitude we can never fully repay”.

He said that the pride they felt was “nothing compared to the pride we feel in them”.

Mr Brown cited the current struggle in the US to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, saying he knew debate on the issue continued.

In 2009, for the first LGBT reception at Downing Street, Mr Brown said that the ban on gay marriage in California was “unacceptable”.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the British military allowing out gay soldiers.

Mr Brown said: “I promise you that no one need walk the road to equality alone again.”

He also listed the achievements made for gay equality in the last ten years, such as gay adoption and fertility rights for lesbians, saying people had warned these things could not be done.
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