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Special Event

Bush Addresses VFW National Convention

Aired August 21, 2000 - 12:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Governor George W. Bush is addressing the VFW national convention.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Think of it, a guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy turning back because there was not enough money for fuel. In the Pacific Fleet training exercises have been cut back for the same reason. They've had to wait until the next fiscal year for training. In the Atlantic Fleet 21 warships need maintenance that's been delayed or the maintenance has been canceled. In both the Navy and Air Force there are shortages of one of our most effective weapons, the cruise missile.

The Navy is not only short on money, maintenance and weapons, it's short on sailors. The Navy entered this new century with a shortage of nearly 10,000 enlisted personnel at sea. In 1998-1999, for the first time the United States Army fell short of its recruiting goals for the all-volunteer force. And the Air Force missed its recruiting goals for the first time since 1979.

Over the last several years, the services have found it more and more difficult to retain the best people. Our men and women in uniform and their families are the foundation of America's military readiness, yet in a survey last year of more than 1,000 officers and enlisted personnel, more than half said they were dissatisfied and intended to leave the service when their current term of enlistment was up.

I don't care what's said in a political campaign, these are signs of a military in decline and we must do something about it.

(APPLAUSE)

The reasons are clear: lack of equipment and material, undermanning of units, over-deployment, not enough time for family, soldiers who are on food stamps and soldiers who are poorly housed.

Dick Cheney and I have a simple message today for our men and women in uniform, their parents, their loved ones, their supporters: Help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

We are going to restore morale in the United States military and treat American soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines with the respect that they have earned.

American soldiers must have confidence that, if asked to serve and sacrifice, the cause will be worthy and our support for them total.

(APPLAUSE)

First, we will give our armed forces better pay, better treatment and better training.

(APPLAUSE)

Recently, after long neglect, a pay raise was finally passed, but I don't think it was enough. In my first budget I will ask the Congress to further the pay raise by $1 billion a year, to make sure our men and women in uniform are properly paid for their duty to America.

(APPLAUSE)

Too much of our military housing is substandard. I will make renovations a priority and increase housing allowances to improve living conditions for our military families.

More than 700,000 children of service men and women are taught in schools owned and funded by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education. Yet, after years of underfunding, many of these schools are rundown and in need of repair. I will ask Congress for $310 million needed to repair and construct schools that will educate the children of the men and women who wear our nation's uniforms.

VAN SUSTEREN: We've been listening to Governor Bush, who's speaking at the VFW national convention in Milwaukee.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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