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Introductory Remarks for Veterans Day Commemoration Panel Discussion

Washington D.C.

Oct. 31, 2018

Thank you, Darren [Long, Chairman of the SEC Veterans Committee], for that kind introduction. I want to thank the SEC Veterans Committee for organizing today’s event. As the son of a Vietnam veteran, Veterans Day holds special meaning for me. It is a day during which we honor the women and men who have served in the armed forces of our great nation.

I remember growing up in central Pennsylvania in the early 1970s. It was a great time, but also – during the middle and end of the Vietnam War – a time of uncertainty. There were periodic funerals. When I think about Veterans Day, I think about the uncertainty that I felt at that time, and know that there are people that feel that today with loved ones in the military. On a personal level, I want to say how important it is to take time to remember the sacrifices that others have made on our behalf.

When I arrived at the SEC, I was incredibly impressed at the support for our nation’s veterans, including those that are currently here at the agency. I’d like to specifically recognize Susan Schneider, the founder of the Veterans Committee and its Chair for over 10 years. Susan, you have done an amazing job, and thank you very much for all you have done for our veterans and the SEC.

Here at the Commission, thanks in large part to the efforts of Susan and many others, we have a tradition of honoring Veterans Day with an annual program sponsored by our Veterans Committee. Today we have a special program – a panel discussion – that I am honored to moderate. Among other things, we will be discussing the Vietnam War, its lasting effects on the American military, and ways in which we can improve the lives of those who have so selflessly served our country. Guiding us through this discussion, we have two distinguished panelists, Dr. Ronald Spector and retired U.S. Army Brigadier General David Blackledge.

Dr. Spector is a Professor at the George Washington University Elliot School of International Affairs, specializing in naval and military history, and international affairs. He has served on the faculties of LSU, Alabama and Princeton and has been a senior Fulbright lecturer in India and Israel. Dr. Spector teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on U.S.-East Asia Relations, World War II, and the Vietnam War, as well as a graduate seminar on Naval history and strategy.

Dr. Spector is also a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1967 to 1969, and again from 1983 to 1984.  Dr. Spector is the author of several books and also was the first civilian to be named as the head of the U.S. Naval Historical Center.

General Blackledge is a graduate of West Point, and he served for 37 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.  General Blackledge held several senior level positions, including Commanding General of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command; Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon; Commanding General of the 351st Civil Affairs Task Force in Baghdad.

General Blackledge’s combat duty includes service during Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition to five Bronze Stars, General Blackledge has received two Purple Hearts for wounds sustained in combat.  

General Blackledge has held management positions at Procter & Gamble, and he currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Melwood Veterans Services. At Melwood, he leads efforts to assist current and former service-members in dealing with the effects of service-related trauma, and in obtaining job training and placement services.

Please join me in welcoming our honored guests today.  

And now I am pleased to get started with the panel.

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