Today, our Nation pays tribute to the millions of military veterans who have served the United States as members of our Armed Forces. To our veterans here at FEMA, although many of you are no longer wearing a military uniform, you have elected to continue to serve your country by joining the FEMA team – and we thank you for bringing your skills, talents, and experiences to contribute to the success of our mission year round, and especially during our current response to Hurricane Sandy.
As part of our response to Hurricane Sandy, veterans from across DHS have also played an integral role as part of our larger FEMA team, the DHS Surge Capacity Force, comprising of over 700 DHS employees they have been trained and deployed to New York and New Jersey serving in community relations and individual assistance activities.
I’d like to personally thank all veterans and the many members of the FEMA family who continue to serve in the National Guard and Reserves and salute the many active duty service members and veterans in our partner agencies in federal, state, local and tribal organizations that share our emergency management goals.
Today we have almost 5,000 National Guard members that are operating in 11 states in response to Hurricane Sandy. That is in addition to all of the former military personnel that are part of the FEMA team as reservists, permanent full time employees, and CORES. Our military partners have always been an integral part of response and recovery operations, and Sandy operations has been no different – from the dewatering and debris removal operation from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, to the fuel assistance from the Defense Logistics Agency, to coordination support from the United States Northern Command, to the security and logistics support from thousands of National Guard members, to the rescue operation from the United States Coast Guard, and this is just to name a few.
As of this morning, more than 364,000 disaster survivors from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have applied for federal disaster assistance, and more than $ 440 million in Individual Assistance has been approved. We could not have made these accomplishments without our veterans. Working under extreme conditions and stressful situations is not foreign to any of them – and we have all learned by their example.
Please join me in thanking our colleagues for all that they have done — and all they continue to do — to protect our country and to help keep America safe.