T hank you , Lee. It is a pleasure to stand with you today , and a privilege to join you in welcoming so many valued colleagues, distinguished guests, friends and family members to the department’s third annual Veterans Appreciation ceremony.
I’d like to extend a special welcome to our keynote speaker – a member of the Air National Guard, and an Army War College graduate – Ranger Keith Snyder, from Antietam National Battlefield . Thank you for taking part in this celebration .
And thank you all for being here, as we come together once again to honor , and pay tribute to over 26,000 veterans who serve our nation’s Department of Justice – and highlight the invaluable contributions that they make every day in strengthening our work and advancing the department’s most essential missions .
Today’s ceremony marks an important opportunity not only to recognize your courage , and your commitment to the cause of justice – but also to express our sincere appreciation for the inspiring examples you provide, and the service you’ve rendered to the department and to our country .
All of the veterans in – and far beyond – this crowd have answered the highest calling of citizenship, placing them among our nations’ most dedicated public servants. By putting your lives on the line to protect our country and its people – and by fighting to preserve the freedoms that all Americans enjoy – each of you has upheld the finest traditions of the United States military, bolstered the justice department’s critical efforts, and set outstanding examples for your colleagues, friends , family members, and fellow citizens .
Whether you currently serve as an agent, a correctional officer, an attorney, an investigator , or a member of the support staff , the skills you learned – and the training you received – during your military service have empowered you to become leaders at every level of the Justice Department . And your unique perspectives have enabled you to make significant, lasting contributions across every office and component.
This is one of the many reasons why, in 2009, President Obama established the Veterans Employment Initiative to help the brave men and women who have served in uniform to gain employment with the federal government once they return home . The president also established a veterans hiring council to drive this work forward at the national level – a council upon which attorney general holder is privileged to serve. And here at the department, I’m proud to say that we ’ve not only made this work a priority – we ’ve created a veterans employment office within the Justice Management Division to help recruit qualified veterans for rewarding careers throughout the department .
We’ve also been among the first federal agencies to answer the president’s call to help put veterans back to work in communities across the country. Since 2009, the community oriented policing services – or cops – hiring program has awarded a total of $1. 6 billion to create or protect over 7,800 jobs in local law enforcement. Most recently , in June, the department distributed $111 million in grants to fund 600 new law enforcement positions across America – and saved an additional 200 positions that were in jeopardy of being cut. And in response to the administration’s goal of providing new career opportunities for men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the COPS Office has required that all new hires funded through the 2012 hiring program must be recent military veterans.
But all of this is only the beginning. Under the leadership of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, we’re also moving aggressively to confront and combat consumer-related fraud – with a particular focus on schemes targeting vulnerable populations, including active-duty servicemembers and veterans.
And as we carry this work into the future – and seek new ways to support, to recognize, and to celebrate those who have sacrificed so much in the service of our great nation – I want to pledge the department ’s ongoing commitment , and my own best efforts, in building upon existing efforts, honoring the contributions our veterans continue to make , and ensuring that each of them is equipped for success long into the future .
Thank you, once again , for your dedication to the American people, for your service to our country, and for your hard work every day.
At this time, it is my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Keith Snyder . Mr. Snyder is the chief of interpretation from the Antietam National Battlefield. He brings a wealth of experience from his over 20 years as a park ranger at Antietam, and has also worked at the Manassas National Battlefield; Harpers Ferry National Historic Park; and the National Mall and memorial parks . Mr. Snyder graduated from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Park Administration, and received his Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army war college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He has served in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard for 37 years, and currently serves as the commander, 167th Maintenance Squadron, West Virginia Air National Guard. In January 2013, he will be promoted to the rank of Colonel. My congratulations to you, in advance, Mr. Snyder!
Ladies and gentlemen , please join me in welcoming our honored guest speaker, Keith Snyder.