Dave [Gorman, Disabled American Veterans]—Thank you for that kind introduction, and thanks also for your years of service to disabled Veterans as executive director of the DAV's Washington office.
I'm batting clean-up, so I won't take too much of your time. Just let me acknowledge a few other special folks.
First, the DAV leaders, our friends and partners in this terrific event: Wally Tyson, National Commander; Marc Burgess, Executive Director, DAV National Headquarters; Susan Henry, DAV Auxiliary National Commander; and Chad Colley, DAV Winter Sports Clinic Chairman.
Bill Boineau, Mayor of Snowmass Village, thanks again for your hospitality in sharing your beautiful town with us.
Our VA organizers: Glenn Grippen, director of VA's Rocky Mountain network, and his wonderful staff; Terry Atienza, director of Grand Junction's VA Medical Center; Sandy Trombetta, founder and director of the Winter Sports Clinic; Teresa Parks, clinic coordinator and "Master Chief of the Mountain"; Matt Bristol, acting director of National Programs and Events, and all the other members of Team VA: Thanks to all of you for another spectacular program.
To the volunteers—the people who help make the "miracle on the mountain" happen through the free gift of time and talents: Our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you.
To all our sponsors, whose generosity makes this event possible every year.Most importantly—our participants and competitors in this week's events, active-duty service members, fellow Veterans, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
A lot of people have had a hand in making this clinic a success—organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and, of course, the Veterans themselves, who have kept coming back year after year.But none of us would be here if it weren't for Sandy Trombetta. Sandy founded the clinic in 1987—before some of you were born. Even before that, he was bringing disabled Veterans up the mountains, showing them what's possible with the right equipment, the right instruction, the right assistance, and a little practice.
Starting with 90 Veterans in 1987, the clinic grew in size every year for its first decade. It began producing a parade of winter-sports champions and paralympians. It also spawned a National Disabled Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, also organized by Sandy.
This year—25 years later—the Winter Sports Clinic is still the largest disabled winter sports event in the world. Those of you who have been here before know why. Those of you who are new to the clinic will soon find out.
There's something for everyone here—downhill and cross-country skiing, curling, snowmobiling, sled hockey, rock climbing, trap shooting, fly fishing, and scuba diving. There are classes on self-defense, shopping trips, and tours of the local area.
And when it's time to relax, there are hot springs, Jacuzzis, and saunas; great food and drink; exciting entertainment; and maybe a friendly card game or two.
Whatever you choose, it's sure to be worth your while.
So on behalf of Secretary Shinseki, and everyone else here to cheer you on, good luck and have a wonderful week.
Today, we are privileged to have with us a distinguished guest and unwavering supporter of America's Veterans.
Since his election, and for many years before his election, he has done everything within his power to ensure that the sacrifices of those who have served, and those still serving, are not forgotten; that returning warriors will not bear their wounds alone; that their families will find help in facing the future—and that the survivors of those who do not return will be cared for by a grateful Nation.
He is a leader who has provided critical support for VA as we continue our efforts on behalf of Veterans to increase access to benefits and healthcare services, end the disability claims backlog, and eliminate Veterans' homelessness.
Our special guest fully shares the President's commitment to America's Veterans and holds an office from which he consistently helps fulfill that commitment. He has seen his son off to war, endured the long wait for his son's return, and felt the special pride of knowing that the burden of wartime service was not left to other families.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure and pride that I present to you, the Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.