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Photo of Cora Marrett

Dr. Cora Marrett
Deputy Director
National Science Foundation

Welcoming Remarks at NSF Veterans Day Event 2011
Arlington, VA

November 3, 2011

Welcome, and thank you so much, Mr. [Hugh] Sullivan. I also want to recognize the Armed Forces Color Guard that was just here with us for the inspiration associated with the colors.

As the NSF's Deputy Director, it is a pleasure and an honor to host this event. Perhaps the writer Cynthia Ozik understood the human condition best when she said, "We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."

Here at NSF, we want to ensure that all who have served in, or are currently serving in, the U.S. Armed Forces know of our collective appreciation. To all of our veterans and for those currently serving, let me on behalf of the Foundation, say "thank you."

At this point, we also celebrate the third anniversary of the Executive Order that helped establish the Veteran's Employment Initiative. This initiative has helped federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, develop comprehensive operations to promote employment opportunities for veterans. We are proud to be partners in making the government a model employer of America's veterans.

You might be interested to know that the National Science Foundation employs 77 veterans: 21 women and 56 men.

I want to speak for a moment to our employees who are veterans, and say, you are integral to our family of 1,500 people. I want to especially commend the daily leadership and expertise of a variety of people. For example, thank you, Mr. Sullivan, for stepping in when this was not something you were expected to take over. Thank you to the Division Director in the Division of Administrative Services, Paul Perez, and to the safety and occupational health manager, Gwen Adams, in the Office of Polar Programs. I wish we had time to recognize all of our veterans who contribute so much to the Foundation individually.

We are also especially proud of the value of the contracts NSF has awarded for Veteran-owned small businesses. We are pleased at the upward trend, with a 38-percent increase between 2010 and 2011. But, we are never satisfied. We aim to produce even larger numbers in years to come. As Mr. Sullivan noted, we have a responsibility not only for the employment of veterans but for the use of veteran-owned businesses for the contracts that we offer.

We also aim to broaden support for veterans' opportunities with external grants such as the Veterans Education in Science and Engineering program. Many veterans emerge from their military experience with advanced skills; advanced skills applicable to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We want to assist them in capitalizing on these interests and translating the skills for mainstream employment. In that sense, we are in partnership with universities to recruit Wounded Warriors and veterans to enroll for undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Not only do we value our veterans' capabilities in specific areas, but we respect and learn from the considerable experience they bring, through knowledge of other cultures and how we as a nation are perceived by other cultures. This is very important to our success as a nation among nations.

So let me say to our veterans: Your experiences and knowledge are assets. They’re precious commodities, not just for you, but for the National Science Foundation and the nation. You bring special value to an increasingly global, international arena. We are grateful for the dedication you displayed in your military service, when you kept our nation safe and strong.

Now, we are honored to have you work side-by-side with all of us at the National Science Foundation. Let me close by saying we thank you, and we salute you. Thank you, very much.