Disabled veterans inspire all Americans, Biden says

  • Published
  • By Donna Miles
  • American Forces Press Service
Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance last night at the opening ceremonies of the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, thanking the participants for their service and sacrifices and for the inspiration they give their fellow Americans.

"You are a remarkable group of people, ... the most tested of all Americans," the vice president told about 400 disabled veterans participating in this year's five-day clinic.

"Collectively, the generations of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have served and sacrificed as you have are the heart and soul, ... the spine of this nation," Biden added. "You have given more than any but those who we have buried."

The vice president thanked the veterans for "the incredible service you have all rendered," but especially for "the service you continue to render."

The participants may not realize how much they do for other people in their situation, Biden told the veterans, or how much they inspire millions of Americans who look to their example.

"So don't underestimate what you continue to do for your country and what you continue to do for so many people ... who aren't warriors like all of you, but they look at you and they take strength from it," he said.

Biden, who brought his family along to the opening ceremonies and introduced them by name, said he frequently takes his children and grandchildren along when he and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, visit military and veterans hospitals.

"I want them to see the incredible courage," he said.

Biden shared stories of wounded warriors who, despite their own struggles, want nothing more than to return to their units and family members who stand by them.

"You are an inspiration to your country," the vice president said. "You have given so much and you ask for so little. You ... have never feared the future and you have never been deterred from the notion of being able to make every day a little better than the day before. That's what brings you all here."

Biden said he, President Barack Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki share a firm belief that the U.S. has many obligations, but "only one sacred obligation: to prepare those we send into harm's way and to care for those who come home."

"It is they first -- not second, not third, not fifth," Biden said. "It is the only truly sacred obligation we have."