In Washington on Sunday, amid the myriad of monuments immortalizing the country’s past near the U.S. Capitol, President Barack Obama paid tribute to the nation’s wounded servicemen and servicewomen at the unveiling of a memorial of a different kind.
Sixteen years in the making, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial (AVDLM) is not only a tribute to fallen soldiers and wounded warriors, but also to their loved ones and caregivers.
“With this memorial we commemorate, for the first time, the two battles our disabled veterans have fought, the battle over there and the battle here at home,” Obama said.
— US Dept of Interior (@Interior) October 5, 2014
Two firms, including the History Associates of Rockville, M.D., researched and collected stories of disabled veterans, like that of triple amputee Vietnam War veteran and AVDLM Secretary Dennis Joyner and his wife and caregiver, Donna, to tell the tale of the physical and psychological struggles of the wounded warriors on the glass.
“This memorial tells us what we must do,” said Obama, “when our wounded veterans set out on that long road of recovery, we need to move heaven and earth to make sure they get every single benefit, every single bit of care that they have earned; they deserve.”
In 2012, there were 21.2 million military veterans living in the U.S., according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate. The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial foundation estimates that there are four million disabled veterans today.
The project was organized by two former Veteran Affairs Secretaries and a philanthropist, who raised more than $80 million to complete the monument.
“This memorial is a challenge to all of us, a reminder of the obligations this country is under,” Obama said. “If we are truly to honor these veterans we must heed the voices that speak to us here. Let’s never rush into war, because it is America’s sons and daughters who bear the scars of war for the rest of their lives.”
The memorial will open to the public on Monday, Oct. 6.