As they have in years past, tens of thousands of American troops will celebrate the holidays overseas. Many of them call our nation’s rural communities home. So it is important – especially in this season – to remember those men and women who defend our nation.
There is one notable difference this year. At President Obama’s direction, after nearly a decade at war, we are moving forward so that all American troops will be out of Iraq to reunite with their families for the holidays. We should never forget the sacrifices of the more than one million men and women of the United States armed forces who served in Iraq, and the sacrifices of their families. We are indebted to them, and proud of their efforts.
USDA has a strong connection with our nation’s military. Today, about 6.1 million veterans live in rural communities, a higher concentration than anywhere else in the country. And the men and women who serve this nation in uniform share a belief with farmers that a nation is like the land itself – you cannot continually take from it without giving back.
Over nearly 3 years, the Obama administration has worked to improve the quality of life for our veterans in rural communities and elsewhere. We’ve strengthened the VA health care system, and helped hundreds of thousands of rural veterans with education benefits and with purchasing a home. Recently, President Obama signed legislation to help unemployed veterans find jobs.
As you spend time with family this holiday season, please take a moment to think of those who aren’t able to do so because they are serving us overseas. Let us draw strength from our service men and women, so we may work – as they do – to build better communities and a stronger nation.
You can also find the audio version of the weekly message here.