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

Privacy Policy

Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Jim Nicholson
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
November 10, 2005

Jim Nicholson
Good afternoon and thank you for surfing your way to "Ask the White House." I'm happy to answer any questions you have about Veterans Day and the War on Terror. Let's get right to the questions.

john, from jacksonville, fl writes:

Jim Nicholson
Thanks for the question. In Florida, VA has 6 medical centers, 10 outpatient clinics, 31 community based outpatient clinics and 11 vet centers.

There are significant plans underway to expand services and improve VA facilities in Florida. Most notably, under the CARES initiative, VA plans to construct a VA hospital in the Orlando area. We presently do not have an inpatient hospital in Orlando. New bed towers are planned in Gainesville and Tampa. A new Spinal Cord Injury Long Term Care Center is planned in Tampa. New clinics are planned for Fort Myers and Jackson, Putnam and Marion Counties.

In addition, a number of construction projects are either planned or underway. They include: expanding the Polytrauma Center at Tampa; replacing clinics in Port Charlotte, Oakland Park; Jacksonville and Inverness and expanding the Sarasota clinic; expanding the mental health unit at Tampa; renovating and expanding emergency rooms at Bay Pines, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.; and renovating and expanding inpatient bed facilities at Miami.

Heyang, from China writes:
When is this day originated?

Jim Nicholson
Good question, thanks for asking.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day – which would later become Veterans Day – with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" The observance was to occur every year, on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, to commemorate the Armistice that ended the First World War. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.

For a more detailed history, I suggest you try this website.

Maria, from Phoenix, AZ writes:
Hello Mr. Nicholson:I'm curious why we have such a vigilant military. Why is our focus strictly military? Is there no way around the use of force? It's not that I do not appreciate what military can and has done, however, what kind of example is that for our children and future generations?

Not using armaments does not mean we're any less powerful, it shows us to be the marks of an advanced society who gets to know hisher "enemies." We must employ other means to solve our problems.

Thank you

Sincerely, Maria

Jim Nicholson
Thanks for the question, Maria. I’d have to disagree with your assertion that America’s focus is “strictly military.” As a former Ambassador, I can tell you from experience that the United States has strong diplomatic relationships throughout the world which help resolve sensitive issues and foster understanding. Unfortunately, terrorists and others seeking to do harm to our way of life don’t negotiate or believe in diplomacy. Their only goal is terrorize innocent people with violence and bloodshed. For that reason, our military – and all Americans – must remain vigilant. We have some of the finest men and women serving in our armed forces, and America remains a safe place for our children and future generations because of their service.

Gil, from wilkes-barre, PA writes:
What can Americans do for our veterns, when thank you just does not in anyway seem enough? Thank you for taking time on helping to honor are brave men and women.

Jim Nicholson
Great question, Gil, I appreciate you asking it. The first way that comes to mind as to how everyone can help our veterans is through the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program. It was founded in 1946 to provide for our nation's veterans while they are cared for by VA health care facilities. Since the program’s inception, volunteers have provided over 500 million hours of service.

VA has two convenient ways you can sign up to be a VAVS volunteer. One way is to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs facility nearest you. When calling, ask for Voluntary Service. Tell the staff of your interest in becoming a VAVS Volunteer. The staff will take care of everything else including your interview, orientation, and assignment.

The other way that you can sign up is by connecting to our VA’s website. Once there, simply click on the “Volunteer NOW!” button, fill out the form and click submit. Someone from the local VAVS office will contact you with further information. Thanks again for the question.

Lucybeth, from Gurabo, Puerto Rico writes:
Why is it called Veterans Day?

Jim Nicholson
Thanks, LucyBeth. The history of Veterans Day is an interesting one. An Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - - a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. I hope this answers your question.

For a detailed history of Veterans Day, I encourage you to go to the following website.

Marilyn, from Texas writes:
I'd like for the veterans of the Iraq war and others stationed all over the world to know that the American people do support them and their great commander-in-chief George W Bush and wish to thank them for all they have done and are doing to win the war on terror.

Jim Nicholson
I couldn’t agree with your sentiments more. Thank you for your comments.

mike, from ct writes:
hey jim- will there we a special veterans event on friday? can you give me details on that?

my real name is micheal but please call me mike

Jim Nicholson
Hello, Mike. You can find out about planned Veterans Day activities a number of ways. However, I think the best way to find out about special events in your town or city is to give a call to one of your local veteran service organizations. Local chapters of the VFW, American Legion and other organizations are great partners of the VA and hold Veterans Day activities in communities across the country. I would also encourage you to take a look at some of the regional events listed on VA’s website at the following address.

Daniel, from Lakeville, CT writes:
Are we providing the best health care and help to veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan? Thank you.

Jim Nicholson
I want our newest generation of patriots – our veterans of the Global War on Terror – to know that the VA is moving robustly to assist them as they return from Iraq, Afghanistan and any other duty station where they are serving. VA has stationed staff on military installations to assist them in their transition from service member to veteran, and has initiated new jobs programs for these returning combat veterans. They and their families can count on VA for health care, disability compensation, home loan assistance, educational benefits and more. They have earned it. They deserve our best and they will receive it.

Uri, from Beverly Hills, CA writes:
Mr. Secretary, Thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of our heros. What can the average person do for veteran affairs?

Jim Nicholson
Again, thank you for asking how you can help. Please see my response to Gil from Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Chris, from Milford, DE writes:
I am a proud parent of an Army soldier. My son just left this morning for his second one year tour in Iraq. He returned in Match 04 from his first tour. How frequently will these brave men and women have to rotate? Will the length of tours be decreased from 12 months to 6 months sometime in the future?

Jim Nicholson
You must be exceptionally proud of your son. I am incredibly proud of our men and women in uniform, the veterans of tomorrow. The sacrifices that they endure in the name of freedom can never truly be repaid, but our Department strives to do just that.

On your specific question, the President has a tremendous amount of trust in the Generals on the ground and at the Pentagon that ultimately decide troop strength, length of deployments, and military strategy.

And he strongly believes, as I do, that our ultimate goal is to bring our men and women back from the Middle East with the honor and dignity that they deserve. As he has said many times, when the Iraqi people are able to stand up to defend themselves, we will stand down.

Again, Chris, thank you for your question, and for your son’s dedication to the United States. Please never let him forget how grateful we are for his service.

Teman, from Jackson, TN writes:
Do you like the National Anthem?

Jim Nicholson
Whenever the National Anthem plays, I stand proudly at attention. It is a song of hope, of triumph, and of the resilience of the American spirit. Just like the flag that waves proudly and stands for liberty, Americans have a deep sense of pride in our country, our freedom, and, of course, our men and women who wear the uniform. Just as I did, our soldiers take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, and the Anthem represents that sacred oath.

Jack, from Rockville writes:
Mr. Secretary,To honor our Veteran's tomorrow, what type of activities will you participate in throughout the day?

Thank you, Jack

Jim Nicholson
I have a pretty busy day tomorrow, as you can imagine. I will start my day with a breakfast reception at the White House, where the President of the United States will meet with veterans from across the country, thanking them for their service. From there, I will be visiting Arlington National Cemetery, where I have the distinct honor to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I will be welcoming the Vice President of the United States to Arlington, where he and I will be speaking to over 5000 soldiers, veterans, and civilians. My day will also include a visit to receptions hosted by the American Legion and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Paul, from Frederick, MD writes:
What speech will President Bush be giving tomorrow, Veterans' Day as I'd like to recap or echo his thoughts to our school's student body. Thank you.

Paul, New Life Christian School Frederick, MD

Jim Nicholson
While the President is still putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s remarks, I can tell you that he will be focusing most of his time on thanking America’s veterans for their service. These brave Americans have been called on to defend freedom in places far and near, and has earned its status as the greatest force for liberation in the world. He will also discuss the current Global War on Terror, where once again the brave soldiers of the United States Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing to defend our safety and security, and to bring freedom and hope to millions of people around the world. I would encourage you to view his speech, and it will also be posted on this White House website on Friday afternoon.

Bobby, from Cocoa, Florida writes:
How can we make Veterans day a week long event and honor to the fallen troops around the world? How could we teach students what Veterans Day mean?

Jim Nicholson
Bobby, we are doing that at VA and you would be happy to learn that education and outreach is a major part of our mission. This year, we sent over 100,000 teachers guides to schools across the country to assist teachers as they discuss Veterans Day with their students. As for your thoughts of making Veterans Day a weeklong event, please know that dozens of VA employees are, at this moment, in over 25 states giving speeches at parades, Veteran-appreciation lunches, and school assemblies. Each and every year we try to participate in as many events as possible, and local communities always do a wonderful job of recognizing America’s veterans.

John, from Melville, LI, NY writes:
In what position should the US Flag be flown at our business site tomorrow? John, Facility Security Officer

Jim Nicholson
John, on Veterans Day the flag should be unfurled at full staff, or raised to the peak. For proper flag etiquette, many Veterans Service Organize, such as the VFW and American Legion, have pamphlets which describe the correct and respectful way to display our symbol of freedom.

Samantha, from South Carolina writes:
How do you think George W. Bush will change the world today?

Jim Nicholson
Samantha, thank you for your question. As you know, in his first four-plus years in office, the President has proven himself to be a compassionate leader who is dedicated to advancing the cause of freedom and spreading democracy throughout the world. As we are seeing in Iraq, where a once oppressed people are now enjoying individual freedoms like never before, the President continues to plant the seeds of liberty that are growing stronger each day and leading us all to a safer, more peaceful world.

Paul, from Leesburg, GA writes:
JOB WELL DONE. I have been recently visiting the VA Hospital more than ever before. The care was good, the peoples attitudes were wonderful. I am happy go lucky and if you greet someone in a happy manner you will find that you will have a pleasant meeting. Again thank you for the wonderful care your hospitals give.

Jim Nicholson
Thank you, Paul. It’s always good to hear from our patients that they’re receiving good care. VA’s 237,000 employees are proud of the great work they do. I’ll be sure to share your comments with the rest of the VA family.

Kim, from Kentucky writes:
Hi Secretary Nicholson, The bombing in Jordan just shows, once again, the barbaric nature of the terrorists and is a desperate attempt to hurt and scare the innocent. I, for one, am so thankful that our soldiers are standing strong against the enemy and ignoring the anti-war protestors. On this Veteran's Day I plan to say some special prayers to let our soldiers know that we care about and stand beside them for as long as this war takes. Thank you for letting me comment

Jim Nicholson
Thanks, Kim. We should all be offering similar thanks and prayers to our veterans and active duty soldiers – not just on Veterans Day – but every day.

Earl, from West Helena, AR. writes:
When will the President's Veterans Day Proclamation be published and where?

Jim Nicholson
Early, thank you for your question.

Click here to read the President's Veterans Day 2005 Proclamation.

Jim Nicholson
I want to thank everyone for submitting such thoughtful questions. In closing, I want to leave you with this:

As we commemorate this Veterans Day, it is important to reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans and by their families. Whether we honor this service with grand parades or a simple handshake accompanied by a quiet “thank you,” these heartfelt gestures let our fighting men and women know we have not forgotten those who answered the call to duty.

May God continue to bless you all.

Return to this article at:

Click to print this document