On Tuesday, July 10, Vice President Biden surprised veterans at a jobs skills class at the US VETS Center in Las Vegas with an unexpected visit. The Vice President met with 32 veterans, discussing issues concerning them as American veterans and answering their questions. The Vice President spoke about veterans’ issues for about 20 minutes, and then asked the media who accompanied him to leave the building so he could speak candidly with the veterans while answering their questions. He took questions concerning what the federal government can do to allow veterans to more quickly and easily access the benefits they have earned through their service, and how more work needs to be done for today’s veterans. During his visit, one veteran complimented his tie, and asked him if it might be OK to ask the Vice President if he could have it. Vice President Biden gladly removed the blue tie patterned with white sailboats and handed it to the thrilled veteran.
The veterans present for the Vice President’s visit were genuinely appreciative of the effort he made to speak with them, saying it did not seem like a calculated political move. Neil DeCaprio, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran, told the press, “You know, some people will say it was just a campaign stop, a political event. There were 32 guys here, that’s not too many votes. I think he wholeheartedly wanted to answer our questions the best way he could. The Obama administration has made headway with improving services for veterans, and I think their hearts and minds are in the right place.” DeCaprio suffers from PTSD as a result of his time spent in Vietnam, where he witnessed a young Vietnamese child shot and killed. He spoke of the extreme difficulty he experienced years ago when seeking help from the government after returning from war, and how much easier it is to receive access to the care he deserves today.
He was not alone in his appreciation for the Vice President’s visit that day. Veteran Damon D’Amico told the press what he really appreciated “was that the Vice President told us, ‘Don’t be scared to ask for help. You deserve it.’ The whole thing made me feel good.” Marine Corps veteran Tyron Avery said, “He is one of the friendliest and warmest people I’ve met, and I don’t think it was an act. I believe they are trying hard to improve things for veterans, and it’s not just lip service.”
After taking all of their questions, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden talked with many of the men individually and took a picture with each of them before leaving. This highly personalized and meaningful visit from the Vice President exemplifies the enduring and powerful commitment of the Obama administration to America’s veterans and the relationship the administration aims to foster with the men and women who, as President Obama has said, “represent what is best in America.”