The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 2, 2001

Remarks by the President and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi During Swearing-In Ceremony
The Oval Office

1:28 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Liz, thank you for being here, and family members who are here, Mom. We are honored you are here, and thank you so much for witnessing the swearing-in of a good man.

Today we honor a man, and swear-in a man, who has served his country in many ways. Tony Principi came to understand the military in war time as a decorated soldier in Vietnam. As a veteran, he came to understand the Department of Veterans Affairs by serving there. To fill this position, I looked carefully, and I chose well.

America has 25 million veterans. They ask that their government honor its commitments as they honored theirs. They ask that their interests be protected, as they protected their country's interests in the line of duty. Secretary Principi is prepared not only to lead this department, but to modernize it. Veteran's claims are often poorly handled, and many veterans are not treated as well as they should be by the health care bureaucracy. Tony and his department will set new goals for better service. More importantly, we both expect the department to meet the goals.

As I said to Congress on Tuesday night, we must honor our commitment to veterans by ensuring access to the finest health care. This is a basic obligation of our country. In last year's campaign, I promised American veterans they'd have an advocate in the White House. In Secretary Principi, they now have a strong and faithful friend at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for your service. Congratulations.

SECRETARY PRINCIPI: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. I'm deeply honored that you have entrusted me with the responsibility to care for the 25 million men and women who have kept our country free. You certainly honor my family with this appointment. And I commit to you, and to our nation's veterans, that I will give my utmost to ensure that the services and benefits that they have rightfully earned will be fulfilled.

And I look forward to working under your great leadership during the next four years. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.


END 1:30 P.M. EST

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