Secretary Salazar: At the Department of Interior we're taking the President's directive very seriously. We've been working on it very hard, and as I said, I see this as an opportunity for us because, we want to recruit the very best and the very brightest that have been tested the way that you all have been tested. And so, ah, today's agreement is something that we are celebrating here at the Department of Interior.
Americans Veterans and Reservists have the skills and know how to build the strengths of The United States Army, and these same skills whether in Engineering, Technology or Law Enforcement can help build the capabilities of our Department of Interior. The agreement being signed today helps create jobs for American heroes for helping Interior to build a twenty-first century high skilled work force that reflects the diversity of the United Sates. It is truly a win-win.
From facilitating energy development to managing America's public plans for tourism and outdoor recreation, to assisting Indian tribes with education, law enforcement and economic growth, the Interior department has a uniquely diverse mission, that would benefit the American people and that helps build the American economy. Today's agreement, makes sure that our soldier's will have more opportunity to continue to serve their country by helping Interior fulfill our critical missions.
Today's agreement is also about the families, it's about the husbands and the wives and the children, who also deserve to be recognized for their sacrifices to our nation. Interior will work with families of deployed military reservists to provide volunteer opportunities on our public plans and to participate in The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Events in nearby communities across The United States.
We know our Reservists, Veterans and wounded warriors can find healing and rest in nature in our parks refuges and other public places. So these agreements will help insure that these places welcome our military families with open arms.
Today's agreement also builds on recent initiatives that we have taken here. In May I was proud to announce in Virginia that we are offering all active duty military a free annual pass that will grant access to service members and their dependents to more than 2,000 sites across the country, including all of our National Parks and our National Wildlife Refuges. The annual pass is just one way that we are thanking those who serve their country in the military.
It's worth nothing that the Department of Interior has strong ties that go back to the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872. It was the Buffalo Soldiers who were first park rangers and we hope to be able to celebrate the Buffalo Soldiers in a special ceremony here in the not too distant future.
During World War II many parks were set aside for the training and care of military personnel so it is very fitting that we open Interior's doors to our military men and women in gratitude. I look forward to working with Lieutenant General Talley and with all of the people who are here today to make this program a reality.
I would like to recognize a few of the reserve compliment soldiers that we have working with us here. Staff Sergeant Joshua Goudy with the US Park Police, please if you'll stand. First Lieutenant Ishra Pananon who introduced me to this room. First Lieutenant Daniel Winter of the United States Parks Police and Lieutenant Colonel Tim Murphy who helps keep me out of trouble every day, as one of our lawyers here in the Department of Interior.
Also, Colonel Lewis Gorman is here. There he is. There's Colonel Lewis Gorman. Thank you for being here as well, Colonel. With that, what I'd like to do is turn it over to the Army Reserve Chief, Lieutenant General Jeff Talley.
Thank you, Secretary Salazar. What a great day it is for us to partner with the Department of Interior. I want to certainly begin by acknowledging the great work that the Secretary has done for this department and for the Department of Interior, but also for the long and distinguished career he had serving as a member of the U.S. Congress representing the great state of Colorado, and in the process supporting our members of the armed forces as a U.S. senator. So, sir, thank you.
Lt. General Talley: This signing represents the first official memorandum of agreement with a federal agency and the United States Army Reserve, so it's historic in that regard. The other is, as I came to realize -- and I didn't understand this in the past -- the Department of Interior is the third largest employer of federal law enforcement. I had to think about that for a minute. That's pretty impressive.
A lot of our neighbors in the army reserves have a law enforcement background and have that federal training already. That's a specific example of how the civilian-acquired skills and military training that we have in the Army Reserve will be of direct benefit to the Department of Interior, should they competitively -- I want to emphasize that -- compete for opportunities as employees of the federal government in their civilian status and as members of this department.
As far as Yellow Ribbon, a big emphasis in the army and the army reserve is on our families, because without our families and the civilian employers for those traditional reservists, we won't be able to retain our soldiers. As our family programs reach out to all of those within the army reserve family, to include our young people, we think that this is a great way that we can also partner with the Department of Interior, not only introducing those young men and women to the great outdoors but also to the great beauty we have in America as represented and administered through the Department of Interior.
So, for us this is an easy partnership, one that really does benefit both organizations. I am grateful to the Secretary and to the whole department for being the very first to set the way for all other federal agencies. With that, thanks very much.
All the Reserve components all of you come and stand behind us, as you witness that we really are signing the agreement.
I was out there on the National Mall. It's kind of a hot day out there. One of the things we're doing is, by the middle of next week, you'll see water going into the reflecting pool. Right, Chief Chambers?
I was looking at the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. I'm looking off to the side of the MLK Memorial [indecipherable 07:12] . Just thinking about how proud it is for us all to be Americans, and to be able to celebrate the history, and the things that we have.
The General and I were speaking about his deployments in Iraq. I've been to Iraq as a U.S Senator on several occasions. I always marvel at how the rest of the world looks to the United States as a model. Where people can live out their freedoms, and live out their human possibilities in the way that is quite unique. This is part of that effort. I'm just very, very proud once again. General, you'll be able to sign now.
The deal is done.
Thank Sir. Thank you very much.
What I want to do is ah, thank you ah, like presenting with you is my personal appoint as the 32nd Chief of the Army Reserve. It's pretty big and pretty heavy, so it can be used to get people's attention, [laughter] if they're not getting the water in the reflection pool in time. [laughter] Chief, I know you can run pretty fast and duck and cover so here you go sir.
Thank you Sir, Thank you very much.
You're welcome, Sir.
Thirty-Second Chief Army Reserve.
Not to be undunced.
You've been around a while.
You've got a few years on us, sir.
I'm giving you an Art Coin from the Department of Interior.
Thank you, Sir.
Really tells the story about our work with America's natural resources and America's heritage. I often speak about this job for me is the best job in the cabinet. I would not trade this job for Attorney General or Housing and Urban Director or Transportation, because look what they get to do. What I get to do is go out to the national Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone, the Cayman Islands, to the oceans of the world to deal with oil and gas and the arctic. I do have the very best job including The Secretary [inaudible 09:44] Thank you very much.
[laughter and applause]
Thank you, Sir.