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Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Delivers Remarks at the Department of Justice’s Veterans Appreciation Day Ceremony


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Lee for that kind introduction and thank you for your 36 years of service to the Department of Justice and your 12 years of stewardship of the Department’s finances.

I also want to thank the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard for the Presentation of the Colors and Girale Wilson-Takahashi from our COPS office for that beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

Thank you all for being here for the Department’s eighth Veterans’ Appreciation Day.

Above all, thank you to the 150 veterans who have joined us today.

Thank you for your service in our Armed Forces—and thank you for your service in this Department.

At this Department of Justice, we recognize that public safety is government’s first and most important priority.

The men and women of our Armed Forces—Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard—risk their lives for that mission every day, and each of us owes them a debt of gratitude.

This Department also works for public safety by enforcing our laws—but we know that our work depends upon the bravery and sacrifice of our troops.

We are proud of each one of the 27,000 veterans who serve in this Department.

Your skills, your patriotism, and above all your selfless character make you the kind of employees that any employer would want.  But you’ve chosen to continue to serve your country—you’ve chosen to work in the Department of Justice.  I commend you for that.

We are well aware that heroes walk these hallways.

Outside of my office is a memorial with the names of colleagues who during World War II made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our grateful country.

I also know firsthand of the heroes we have in department, because I am now literally surrounded by them each and every day.  Most of the FBI agents in my security detail are veterans.

That includes Special Agent Damon Flores, who is a former Navy rescue swimmer in the Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf.  After his service in the Navy, he went to college on the GI Bill and got an accounting and finance degree.  He quickly realized that accounting was not as exciting as being a rescue swimmer.  He wanted a little more adventure, and so he signed up with the FBI.  He marked his 14th anniversary with the Bureau just yesterday.  Damon, congratulations.

We’re also proud to be the home of Maura Quinn of DEA.

Maura graduated from the Naval Academy, and then in flight school she chose to fly helicopters so she could pilot a combat aircraft.  After graduation she deployed twice—first with a carrier battle group to the Indian Ocean and then in support of Operation Desert Shield. 

She served as an instructor pilot for two years and went to law school at night.  As if she weren’t busy enough, she gave birth to two children before graduation.

After law school, she joined the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California and then the FBI’s Office of General Counsel.  She then served for eight years in the Chief Counsel’s office at DEA.  Over that time she became an expert in technology law—and today she serves as DEA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Information Systems.  Maura, thank you for your service.

I could go on and on.  There are roughly 26,998 more examples that I could talk about.

But this is the caliber of people that we are so grateful to have in this Department.

Through our Veterans Employment Office in the Justice Management Division, we have made hiring veterans a priority and helped them make the transition into careers with the Department.

We want more exemplary employees like Damon Flores and Maura Quinn.

We will continue to invest in our heroes—because you’re a good investment.  You are, in the words of General John Kelly, “the very best this country produces.”

Now I have the honor of introducing someone who knows that as well as anyone.

Our keynote speaker is the Director of Military Force Management Policy for the Air Force, Major General Robert LaBrutta.  You might think of him as the Air Force’s head of human resources.

Major General LaBrutta has served in the Air Force for the last 37 years.

Today he is responsible for setting force management policy that affects more than half a million Air Force personnel—issues like assignments, evaluation, readiness, and transitioning back to civilian life.

Before this assignment he served as Commander of the Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

He has earned a number of distinguished awards including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and many others.

Please join me in welcoming Major General Robert LaBrutta.

Updated November 15, 2018