As we take time on Monday to thank our nation’s veterans for their service and sacrifices, we also recognize the veterans who continue to serve here at home, including across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
As a veteran myself, I am proud that DHS employs more than 54,000 veterans who make up almost 28 percent of our total workforce, in addition to the more than 43,000 active duty U.S. Coast Guardsmen and women we are honored to call our colleagues.
I’d like to highlight just some of the work we are doing across DHS to recognize our men and women in uniform.
This year, from November 7 to 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will welcome almost 8,000 new U.S. citizens at over 120 naturalization ceremonies—many of whom are military members and veterans who have sworn to defend our nation and will be proudly welcomed as our fellow Americans.
At the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), over a quarter of the workforce is military veterans. This year, TSA revised screening requirements to allow expedited screening for this group through its Wounded Warrior program.
The Wounded Warrior Screening program makes the overall experience for wounded service members as simple as possible, including curb-to-gate services and expedited screening to move through security checkpoints without having to remove shoes, light outerwear jackets or hats.
Through a new program developed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, injured or disabled veterans can get a chance a chance to continue to serve at home for a good cause. The recently announced H .E.R.O. (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) Child Rescue Corps, brings together resources and expertise to train and equip wounded warriors to assist special agents with criminal investigations involving child pornography and online sexual exploitation.
Earlier this month, Coast Guard members organized by the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association honored the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during a Flags Across America event. On Veterans Day, I will join the Coast Guard for a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Ceremony. Also, next week we will celebrate the naming of the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building. Named after one of our heroes and the Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman Douglas Munro put himself in harm's way and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Marines at Guadalcanal during World War II.
We also are proud to work with and support many veterans and veterans organizations outside the department. Last year, DHS provided more than $1.5 billion in contracts to veteran-owned businesses, and we continued to expand our outreach to many veterans groups seeking to work with us.
I hope you will join me in thanking veterans for their service and ongoing contributions. Having served in uniform myself, I am grateful for every veteran across DHS for their hard work and know we are truly safer and more secure because of them.