Bush's address to VFW on track

Published 8:38 pm Monday, January 16, 2006

By By Lavan Martin
Following are excerpts from President Bush's address to the VFW as provided and approved for publication by the VFW:
On Jan. 10, 2006, President George W. Bush discussed his strategy for victory in Iraq with the senior leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.
"We are honored to have the president accept our invitation to speak," said VFW National Commander Jim Mueller, who introduced President Bush to a packed ballroom in the Omni Sheraton Hotel in Northwest Washington.
The president discussed the political, security and economic elements of the strategy for victory before a crowd of 425 veterans, military leaders, cabinet members, government officials, and more than a dozen soldiers recuperating from their war wounds at nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He talked about what has been achieved to date in Iraq, the challenges faced, and what the American people can expect to see in the year ahead.
But he also made a specific point of issuing a stern warning to his critics in Congress who may use this year's mid-term elections as a platform to further debate the war in Iraq. The president said that Americans should insist on a debate "that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries."
Mentioned throughout his 45- minute address was praise for the sacrifice and service of military veterans and for those still wearing the uniform, and he specifically singled out the VFW for passing a national resolution that keeps faith with the troops in the field by supporting their mission.
"VFW members come from all over the country and both sides of the political aisle – yet our position on the war is clear," he said. "In a recent resolution, the VFW declared, 'It is critical that the United States succeed in Iraq, which will result in stability and security in the region.' I appreciate your support for the mission in Iraq, and so do our troops in the fight."
Echoing the president was Army Lt. Col. Ed Loomis, public affairs officer for the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, who watched the president's remarks via a live television feed on The Pentagon Channel.
"Knowing our veterans – the heroes who have inspired us to serve – haven't lost confidence in us is important to everyone in the chain of command," he said. "Because Iraq matters."
"As I've said many times before, once the decision is made to commit our forces, our nation's number one priority must be to support the troops so that they can accomplish their mission and return home to their families with their heads held high," he said.
The president accepted the invitation to speak at the VFW – sponsored event following last week's passage of a VFW national resolution to formally support the war in Iraq as part of the larger global war on terrorism. VFW Resolution 440 also stipulates that American forces should remain in Iraq in sufficient numbers until Iraqi forces can provide security for their own nation.
"Our servicemen and women recognize the importance of their mission because they are witnessing positive changes every day in the lives of the Iraqi people and the future of the Iraqi nation," said Mueller, a Vietnam veteran from O'Fallon, Mo.
"They ask for nothing less than American's unwavering support so that they can remain focused on accomplishing there assigned mission," he said. "To withdraw our forces prematurely is a win for the enemy and a loss for America, and I for one never want another generation of Americans to have to experience that."
"Amen to all this, say Atmore area VFW members."
Thank you.
Lee "Lavan" Martin
Atmore VFW Post

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