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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 19, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Luncheon Reception for Martha Rainville Victory 2006
The Inn at Essex
Burlington, Vermont

12:20 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thanks for the very warm welcome to your beautiful state. General Rainville, thank you very much. I'm so thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to be here for you and for the Republican Party. I want to acknowledge your Governor, Jim Douglas. You've got a really wonderful Governor. (Applause.)

The Chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, Jim Barnett, is here. Jim, thank you for what you do. Randy Brock, the Vermont State Auditor, thank you very much. And General Rainville's son Alex is here, as well as your daughter, is that right? Jennifer. So they're both here. Lieutenant Governor, Brian Dubie, thank you also for joining us today.

I'm so happy to be in Vermont, and I'm especially delighted to be here to support your great candidate for the United States Congress, Major General Martha Rainville. (Applause.)

Martha will be a passionate advocate for Vermont's values in the House of Representatives, and her military leadership experience makes her uniquely qualified to serve at this crucial time in our nation's history.

In 1997, Martha became the first woman in the 370-year history of our country's National Guard to be elected adjutant general. She paved the way for other women, and America's National Guard now has two more women adjutant generals. Thank you, Martha, for being a role model for women across our country. (Applause.)

During her time at the National Guard, and before that the Air Force, Martha served with courage and distinction. Under her leadership, the Vermont National Guard has responded more rapidly to major natural disasters in your state, including four floods and an epic ice storm in the span of 18 months. And Martha led the Guard during this crucial phase in the war on terror, overseeing the largest mobilization of Vermont Guardsmen since World War II.

Martha is also serving Vermonters with compassion. Over the last two years, she has made the well-being of Guard families her top priority. During Martha's tenure, the Vermont legislature passed the first tuition assistance bill for National Guard members, and extended educational benefits to Guard families.

And close to my heart, Martha is a champion of literacy and education throughout your state, working with young people to encourage reading.

These achievements remind us of why the people of Vermont need Martha as your representative in Congress. And because she's such a passionate advocate for our children, people across America need her voice in Congress, too. (Applause.)

Helping young people build the knowledge and the self-respect they need to lead successful lives is at the heart of the Helping America's Youth initiative. In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Helping America's Youth initiative, and he asked me to lead it. So over the last year, I've traveled to all parts of our country, visiting with young people and with the adults who are so important to their lives. I've been to schools and to after-school programs. I've met with mentors and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I've visited gang intervention programs, where I've met young people who are leaving gangs and finding jobs. I visited with a school debate program in Atlanta, where students learn to use their voices and not their fist to resolve problems.

Recently, I heard from the directors of a program in Los Angeles that I visited last year. That program, Will Power to Youth, uses the performing arts -- performances of Shakespeare, actually -- to teach young people employable skills. They wrote to me about a young man, Jes s, who was on the verge of homelessness when I met him. Since then, with his experience building sets for these performances, Jes s is now working at Home Depot, and he was just named the Home Depot Employee of the Month.

All of these visits culminated with the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth last October, where we introduced an online, interactive community guide to helping America's youth. This guide is a terrific asset for communities who are trying to determine their own local needs, and then trying to find resources to meet them. On the site, adults who are looking for help for their youth can find demographic maps of your community, showing which neighborhoods have the most children. They can also create a map that shows where the youth programs in their communities are located. Comparing the maps, community leaders can then identify neighborhoods where young people don't have access to after-school activities or mentoring programs or other positive alternatives to risky behavior.

The Community Guide can also help concerned adults establish proven youth programs, programs that are proven to help young people in these underserved areas. The website offers a list of programs that help people avoid dangerous behaviors. The Community Guide is available on the website,, g-o-v, that is. So I urge all of you to look at this Community Guide, and then to use it here in Vermont in each one of your neighborhoods.

We need to provide America's young people with strong role models, and General Martha Rainville is that. She has the absolute integrity and a commitment to bringing out the very best in America that makes her the kind of model we want for all of our children. (Applause.)

And Martha understands that America faces issues that are too important to be reduced to simple politics. She knows that President Bush has an ambitious agenda for the rest of his term in Washington. Ending our dependence on foreign oil, reforming our immigration system, rebuilding a better and more beautiful Gulf Coast, and keeping our country safe from terrorists are all vital goals. To accomplish them, we need to have serious national conversations conducted with civility and respect, and Martha's voice will be a thoughtful, positive and powerful part of that dialogue.

This is just one reason why Martha will be a wonderful leader for Vermont. In her long and distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.

So I want to thank you for everything you've already done. Thank you for your support of Martha and the Republican Party, and I want to urge you to redouble your efforts to turn out the vote so that Martha is elected this November to the United States Congress. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

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