Today IAVA Leadership Fellow, Aaron Mankin, delivered the following remarks to open IAVA’s Commander-in-Chief Forum:
Good evening. My name is Aaron Mankin. I served in the United States Marine Corps as a corporal–and I am proud to continue serving as a member and spokesperson for IAVA. Too many big events start with a General, it’s about time one started with a Corporal!
On behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and our over 400,00 members and supporters worldwide, I’d like to welcome you all to the Commander-in-Chief Forum!
IAVA is proud to be the host of this first-of-its-kind event. It’s a truly historic moment for our community–and for all Americans.
IAVA would like to thank the entire team here at the Intrepid. We’d like to especially thank our IAVA Board Members and the Co-Chairmen of the Intrepid, Mr. Ken Fisher and Mr. Bruce Mosler. We’d like thank Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton. And we’d like to especially thank NBC News and MSNBC for making this night possible.
While serving in the US Marine Corps in 2005, I was wounded during an IED attack. I came home to over 60 surgeries. And yet, in many respects, my transition has been easy. You can see my scars, but many of us bear hidden wounds. And tragically, because of those wounds, we lose 20 of our brothers and sisters every day to suicide.
Tonight, I am here for them. And we are all here for them.
We are here for those who need VA health care, but get lost in red tape.
We are here for the women who wore the uniform as I did, but often don’t get the same recognition.
We are here for our military families that sacrifice alongside us.
We are here for the fallen–and the families that continue to honor their memory.
We are here for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are serving in harms way around the world right now.
We are here for the 22 million veterans in America, of all generations, who have put it all on the line in defense of this great nation.
No matter who wins this election, let’s all commit to unite back here in New York, on Veterans Day.
Win or lose, we invite both candidates–to stand with our veterans–and march with us together in the biggest Veterans Day parade in America.
Thank you again for being here…and Semper Fi!