George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Anthony J. Principi as Secretary of Veterans Affairs

March 02, 2001

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 wartime 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. Veterans' 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.

[At this point, Secretary Principi made brief remarks.]

The President. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:28 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary Principi's wife, Elizabeth, and his mother, Theresa. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Secretary Principi.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Anthony J. Principi as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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