Walz gives keynote address at American Legion convention

Published 11:43 am Saturday, August 29, 2009

Congressman Tim Walz, DFL-Mankato, gave a keynote address Wednesday at the American Legion National Convention in Louisville, Ky.

He spoke about the need for Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to work together to ensure that returning servicemen and women do not fall through the cracks when they transition to civilian life and asked the Legion for their leadership and expertise to help make this goal a reality.

Excerpts from Walz’s speech, as prepared for delivery:

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“I know that when we work together, as we should, in a way that transcends politics, then I know that we can do right by our veterans, and in doing that, we can come together as a nation … We can debate things, and we can have differences, but we can also work them out, and figure out how to get to our common goal. And it is your leadership and your voice that serve as a guidepost for us to work from and to try to get where we need to go.

“We have been talking about seamless transition for at least a generation. But I will tell you why I am optimistic about this now. I am optimistic because we’ve got Congress on board, we’ve got the administration on board, and we’ve got two secretaries, Secretary Gates and Secretary Shinseki, on board and who seem committed to working together in an unprecedented way.

“In all of this, you lead the way. And on seamless transition, we need your help — to tell us what our newest veterans need, and to tell us how to do it right. The Legion speaks with the voice of experience and has the vision to propel this to initiative to completion in the very near future.

Walz serves as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He spent 24 years in the National Guard and is the highest ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress.