Vice President Mike Pence delivered the keynote address at the American Legion’s centennial convention Thursday in Minneapolis, touting the Trump Administration’s historic record of defending America’s veterans.
“To all the legionares today, and every member of the legion family across America, I bring greetings and congratulations from a leader that you heard from last year, and a great champion of our armed forces—past, present, and future—I bring greetings and congratulations from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump,” he began his address.
Pence went on to thank “the men and women of the American Legion” who brought America “to the start of a new century of American strength,” a theme the vice president frequently returned to throughout his address.
“You veterans are emblematic of American greatness. You stepped up to serve your country, to serve a cause greater than yourselves,” he said, before honoring the life of Sen. John McCain. “America will always remember and honor the lifetime of service of United States Sen. John McCain.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, you have an ally and a champion in President Donald Trump. Just as you fought for our freedom, we will always fight for you,” Pence continued, again reiterating that “peace only comes through strength.”
Pence then discussed the laundry list of accomplishments the Trump administration has made for veterans, telling the crowd of veterans that their benefits “are simply the earned compensation for men and women who served in the uniform of the United States.”
“Since day one of this administration, we’ve taken decisive action to ensure that America keeps the promises that we made to each and everyone of you and all of our nation’s heroes. Last year, on the stage of this very convention, President Trump signed into law a historical bill that would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the American Legion—the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act,” he said, suggesting that the act gives the “nation’s heroes the answers they need on a timeline they deserve.”
Under the Trump administration, the government has provided $25 million in retroactive benefits, processed the “most appeals cases in a single year in American history,” and has “fired, suspended, or demoted” more than 3,000 employees at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for “negligent behavior,” according to Pence.
“I promise you this VA, this administration, will not rest until we end the backlog at the VA once and for all,” he continued.
Pence, the son of a Korean War veteran, also stressed the importance of improving mental-health services for soldiers returning home from war who carry “the quiet cost of freedom.”
“We are with you. You do not care that burden alone,” he said, noting that unemployment rates among veterans has fallen by nearly 40 percent since election day, making it the lowest level of veteran unemployment in nearly 20 years.
He concluded his remarks by again expressing his gratitude for the American Legion, and its leadership in “forging a new century of American strength.”
“This is the land of the free because it is still the home of the brave,” Pence said. “And you are that brave.”