Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper Speaks at Veterans Summit

Uploaded by whitehouse on 11.05.2012

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Executive Director
of the White House Joining Forces Initiative,
Navy Captain Brad Cooper.
Captain Brad Cooper: Well, thank you, everybody, and good afternoon.
It is a great thrill and honor to be here and absolutely
wonderful to see so many familiar faces,
some of whom I have only got to know through email over these
last ten months, and I look forward to having the
opportunity to chat with you later today.
As a Naval officer, I can tell you it is a wonderful thrill,
particularly when you're just a staff guy,
to be back on sea duty, even if that sea duty is a
decommissioned aircraft carrier that's turned into a museum
that's moored to a pier.
So it's a day that I personally celebrate and look forward to
more of that in the days and weeks to come.
But I'm here to first say thank you for the efforts that so many
of you have delivered on behalf of our nation's veterans and
families, and made such a meaningful impact,
and particularly in the last year or two years.
I know that this effort that you have undertaken has been
extraordinary, and you should know that it's the effort that
you have done and summits like this and convenings like this
that will be needed to help propel us as we move forward.
So with that, let me tell you a little bit about Joining Forces.
As many of you know, the initiative was launched last
year as a means to recognize, honor and support our nation's
veterans, service members and military families.
And not just through thank you's,
but through meaningful action.
And when I say meaningful action,
it intersects with the very subject of what we're talking
about today, and that starts with jobs.
Based on feedback that we received from the veteran
community and through military spouses,
we very early on collaborated with many of you,
and I'm thrilled to say that just about every company who is
here today we've worked with in one way, shape or form.
And in the last year, and more specifically in the last nine
months, through Joining Forces alone,
1600 companies have hired more than 65,000
veterans and military spouses, and they've committed to hire
another 170,000 military spouses and veterans in the
next two years.
And that's something about which everybody should be proud of.
And the real strategic takeaway for you is this is 1600
companies, it is a dot in the capacity of this nation.
They've hired 65,000 men and women.
There are less than 200,000 who are unemployed who are
post 9/11 veterans.
Think of the capacity of this country to address this issue.
It is real, it is tangible, and through a concerted focused
effort, you should feel a sense of confidence that we can get to
where we need to go.
And that is a better place in employment.
So thank you for that.
I also want to hit for just a moment on
public-private partnerships.
You heard Secretary Donovan talk about this earlier.
One of the things that we've done,
and we've taken input from so many of you in this process,
is really stretch ourselves in what the art of the possible has
been in the public-private domain.
And I mean that as a way to really deliver impact.
And in just the 12 -- and I'll give you a few examples.
In just the last 12 weeks, we had a very close collaborative
effort with the Department of Labor,
and the subject was caregivers, particularly caregivers for the
wounded, expanding some authorities for the caregivers
that was complemented by a private sector and nonprofit
effort with the Semper Fi Fund and Operation Homefront to help
increase the attention and draw more support
to those caregivers.
And then finally the third leg of this collaboration was the
result of the great work by the Chamber of Commerce who next
Friday will hold a hiring fair for caregivers in Bethesda.
Now, this idea last year would have been unfathomable had it
not been for the creativity of many of you involved,
and so for that, I'm appreciative.
And to move things like that forward is what we're going
to need to do.
Now, on an entirely different level,
I'd like to give great credit to the VA and the senior leadership
of the Department of Defense, and I'll tell you why.
In December, we convened the leaders of the 30 leading
medical associations in the United States of America,
literally the leaders of all -- of these organizations,
the American Medical Association,
American Nurses Association, the American Psychiatric
Association, all of them in Washington, D.C.
And we did it under the auspices and leadership really of the
Department of Defense and, to their credit, their spouses.
And we brought them to Washington,
and based on the information that you've heard,
you know that half the veterans in the country go to the VA for
their care.
I think when they do, their trajectory is certainly more
positive than it would it otherwise.
But to really move the ball in this country,
you have to have systemic change so that the other half who don't
go to the VA, and we know this population is in every community
in the United States of America, you have to have health
professionals in the community that fundamentally understand
what the issue is.
So here is the good news as we move forward,
and I candidly believe we are just at the infancy of what
the art of the possible is.
Already we've seen major organizations,
including the Association of American Medical Colleges,
commit that every American medical college will train every
future physician in the country on what post-traumatic stress
and traumatic brain injury are, and they'll do it because they
know this issue will be around for the next half century or
longer, those who are affected are in their 20's and 30's.
This is a long-term investment.
That was the first step, and it was a great step.
And then through the great work in a collaborative process with
the VA, we then took it to the next level.
There is fundamentally one profession in the medical
discipline that literally is in every community and can match
the veterans of the country, and that's the nurses.
So we approached them and they came forward in ways
unimaginable, and just recently committed to training every
nurse in the United States of America in the coming years on
post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
That is a tremendous leap forward and almost unimaginable
even three, four, five or six months ago.
Now --
Now, we know that will take a lot of effort,
we know that you're just not going to turn on the light
switch and that will achieve an effect.
That a long-term investment, but it's the type of systemic change
that we need for the long haul, for the population that we're
talking about, our nation's veterans.
I'd like to pivot for just a little bit and also acknowledge
the great work being done by nonprofit organizations around
the country.
We've talked about how many of them there are.
I can tell you so many of them, so many of you,
because I recognize you around here,
have really elevated your game to support our veterans and
families, and have done it in the most meaningful and
impactful of ways.
Less than a month ago, we recognized many of those
organizations at the White House with an event with the First
Lady and Dr. Biden, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs,
and Tom Brokaw was there, and the purpose of that event was to
really shine a light on the great efforts of the private
sector and what they can do in communities around this country.
And meaningful work, work that can make an impact at a very
personal level.
Now, even after the event, we knew that there is significant
work that remains, and we have talked about that here today.
And so today, I'd like to say that we're here to shine a light
on another great example, as has been done,
and that's Robin Hood, an organization who truly has
been stepping up in ways that are big.
And really Robin Hood is doing exactly what the concept of
Joining Forces is all about.
They are, as others have said and the First Lady has said,
doing exactly what they do best, and looking to raise their game
to a new level to make an impact.
And so today I'm very pleased to announce a collaborative effort
between the White House, Robin Hood and New York City to
connect returning veterans and their families to the services
and opportunities that they have earned.
These services include their employment,
their education and their wellness,
and we're looking to do this for the long-term.
So to Robin Hood, thank you very much for your
tremendous leadership.
And thank you also to those many organizations here in New York
City who will collaborate with them as we move forward in this
process, your work is meaningful,
and there's no question in my mind when we have a chance to
talk about that, this in the future,
that we'll look back and say this was the right decision.
Now, looking ahead, we also want to build on the strong efforts
to date from the federal agencies and from the
government, and those thousands of private sector organizations
that we talked about.
And I will tell you that we are deeply committed to exploring
ways to connect every veteran to this assistance that they need,
require and have earned.
And that's throughout the country,
not just here in New York City.
And I'll say that this is a big deal,
Robin Hood's commitment is a big deal,
the city's commitment is a big deal,
and we want to take this to the next level.
And so to build on today's conversation, in July,
I'd also like to announce that the White House task force on
veterans wounded and military families will convene a meeting
of local leaders from around the country to further explore ways
that community-based strategies, like those that we've talked
about today, because we know as General McChrystal mentioned in
an interview about six weeks ago,
our veterans come from communities and they go back to
our communities, that's where the most meaningful and tangible
impact to be made.
So we look forward to having this convening in July,
taking the great lessons from today and applying that as we
move forward, and we think that's where there will be
tremendous opportunity.
And when we think public, private and collaborative,
that clearly I believe is going to be the path ahead.
So in the meantime, through Joining Forces and the efforts
of all the agencies in the government,
we'll continue to work with those veteran service
organizations and the private sector to continually share best
practices, so if you have them, please send them our way,
or please send them, if you're local, to Robin Hood.
And we look forward to leveraging those in the end
of the day for our veterans' well-being and their health,
as well as their families.
So thank you to everybody, it's a great privilege to be here.
I look forward to talking to those who I haven't had
a chance to talk with.
It's a great privilege to work with you,
and we're looking forward to doing that in the weeks,
months and years to come.
Thank you so much.