“A True American Patriot” — President Obama Pays Tribute to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

President Obama, Vice President Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary Hagel

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participate in an Armed Forces farewell in honor of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 28, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President traveled to Fort Myer, Virginia yesterday for the Armed Forces farewell ceremony in honor of our 24th Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

In his remarks, the President acknowledged Secretary Hagel's courageous work during his lifelong service as a decorated veteran and Secretary:

[T]oday is a celebration of a quintessentially American life -- a man from the heartland who devoted his life to America. Just imagine, in your mind’s eye, the defining moments of his life. The kid from Nebraska who, as Marty said, volunteered to go to Vietnam. The soldier outside Saigon, rushing to pull his own brother from a burning APC. The deputy at the VA who stood up for his fellow Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. The senator who helped lead the fight for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, to give this generation of heroes the same opportunities that he had.

I asked Chuck to lead this department at a moment of profound transition. And today we express our gratitude for the progress under his watch.

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Welcoming Bipartisan Action Against Ebola

While many issues divide Washington, we have seen bipartisan progress -- in both the House and the Senate -- in the effort to combat Ebola. These steps forward are encouraging, and hopefully suggest positive momentum for the President’s vital $6.... Read more »

The President Wraps Up Trip in Burma, Heads to Australia

President Obama Walks Toward Air Force One in Burma

President Barack Obama walks towards Air Force One past honor guards and a group of representatives from Burmese ethnic groups before departing from Naypyitaw International Airport in Burma. November 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has spent the week traveling in China, Burma, and Australia to help further the U.S. rebalancing strategy and his firm belief that our economic ties to the Asia Pacific region are integral to America's economic growth.

After securing a historic agreement with China to reduce carbon pollution, the President traveled to Naypyitaw and Rangoon, Burma for the East Asia Summit, the U.S.-ASEAN Summit, and for a bilateral meeting with Burmese President Thein Sein. 

Two years ago, President Obama became the first American president to visit this country. On this visit, both Presidents discussed the progress that Burma has made in the pursuit of a more open democracy and the work that's left to do: 

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President Obama Awards the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing

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Earlier this afternoon, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing for his heroic acts of bravery while serving as an artillery commander during the Civil War.

On July 3, 1863, Lieutenant Cushing went above and beyond the call of duty when fighting against Confederate forces. Even after being struck twice, he refused to abandon his command. As a result, his gallant efforts helped open wide gaps in the Confederate Army's line of command.

The Medal of Honor is typically awarded within a few years of the action, but as the President noted, “sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time.” At today's ceremony, the President was joined by more than two dozen of Lieutenant Cushing's family members. Helen Loring Ensign, a cousin twice removed of the Lieutenant, accepted the award on his behalf.

“For this American family, this story isn’t some piece of obscure history -- it is an integral part of who they are. And today, our whole nation shares their pride, and celebrates what this story says about who we are.”

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We Will Stop Ebola in West Africa

 

USAID Administrator Raj Shah meets with Ebola Responders in Liberia

USAID Administrator Raj Shah and U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac meet with Doland Willis and Gabriel Frank of the U.S. Army JFC Operation United Assistance Liberia at the Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Monrovia. October 14, 2014. (by Morgana Wingard)

Ed. Note: Below are excepts of an op-ed by USAID Administrator Raj Shah for USAToday. Read his op-ed in its entirety here

In the heart of the Ebola epidemic, there is a clear sense of hope. I've just returned from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where I met dozens of health workers, humanitarians and community leaders who are making a difference in this fight.

There is no question that the pace, ingenuity, and scale of our global response must continue to grow quickly. But at a time when fear and misinformation spread panic faster than a virus, let's not miss the opportunity to scale up what's working, fix what isn't and bring the best of science, technology and innovation to bear on this devastating disease.

I spoke with Ebola survivors who now care for sick patients in the very same Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) that saved their lives. I met local workers on burial teams who enter communities threatened by Ebola and endure the stigma of the virus to bury loved ones. At a training session for health care workers, I met a young doctor from Germany who gave up her holiday to put on a personal protective suit in the stifling heat and train others to work in the hot zone. We need hundreds more just like her. And we must ensure that when these brave individuals do volunteer to serve, we not prevent or unduly discourage them from undertaking this indispensable and selfless work.

...

Time and again, we've seen the value of innovation in crisis response. We relied on satellite-based predictive modeling to save lives in advance of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and during the 2011 famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. We need similarly creative and bold thinking today. That is why President Obama announced Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development, a grant competition designed to invent better tools to tackle this disease in a matter of weeks, not years.

We're exploring advances in diagnostics that reduce the difficulty of transporting blood samples over terrible roads; new laboratory solutions, such as vaccines and therapeutics; improved designs for personal protective equipment; and real-time data to better predict spikes and valleys in active cases.

But the United States cannot end this epidemic alone. Already the U.S. response -- in dollars alone -- accounts for more than one-third of the global commitment. As President Obama has stressed, governments, international organizations and the private sector must step up far more aggressively.

Like every Ebola outbreak in history, this one will be stopped. I know because I've met the heroes on the front lines who fight when so many others flee and who face what so many others fear. We owe them more than our thanks. We owe them our commitment to stand shoulder-to-shoulder until we beat Ebola at its source.

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Active Monitoring and the Latest Steps in Our Response to Ebola

President Obama meets with Ebola Coordinator Ron Klain and Officials

President Barack Obama holds a meeting on Ebola with Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain and members of his team coordinating the government’s Ebola response, in the Oval Office. October 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The United States continues to lead a comprehensive effort enhance our preparedness to respond to Ebola here at home, while also tackling the epidemic at its source in West Africa. From helping hospitals improve training and care to coordinating and contributing significant resources to fight the disease at its source, the Administration is working to help keep Americans safe.

Today, President Obama met with Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain and Administration officials to discuss the latest steps we're taking to prevent the spread of Ebola here at home. One way is through active monitoring, a procedure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in coordination with local health authorities, is putting in place to ensure travelers from the affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will report their temperature and symptoms to health officials for 21 days. The CDC will work with state and local officials of six states -- New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia, which are the destinations for the majority of travelers from the three countries -- to actively monitor them. 

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Weekly Wrap Up: A Look at Our Week

This week at the White House, the President updated the nation on our government-wide response to Ebola, we discussed efforts against ISIL with our international efforts, and the First Lady asked, “Turnip for What?” 

Photo of the Week

 

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President Obama talks on the phone with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell concerning the latest update on the Ebola situation.

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We Continued to Respond to Ebola

On Wednesday, the President met with Cabinet officials and Dr. Tom Frieden -- of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- in the Cabinet Room of the White House. 
 
After the meeting, President Obama laid out our comprehensive plan to contain Ebola, prevent its spread in the United States, and combat it at its source in West Africa.
 
Have questions about how exactly the disease spread? We’ve got the facts:
  • Ebola cannot be spread through the air, water, or food in the U.S. You cannot contract Ebola through casual contact with someone who has no symptoms. 
  • Ebola can only be contracted through bodily fluids, contaminated objects, or infected animals.
  • Ebola only spreads when people are showing symptoms. 
Now that you’ve got the key facts, pass it on to someone else who needs to know

Worth sharing: Here are the facts on #Ebola, and what we're doing to respond → http://t.co/RMFwal2IB8 pic.twitter.com/UJLnOsP7RV

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 16, 2014

Today, the President appointed Ron Klain to coordinate the government’s comprehensive response to Ebola. Mr. Klain has served as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents, and his talent and managerial skills extend far beyond the White House. He has a great working relationship with leading Members of Congress and brings extensive intergovernmental operations experience to the job.

We Joined International Military Leaders to Discuss Efforts Against ISIL

On Tuesday, President Obama headed to Joint Base Andrews to meet with military leaders from over 20 partner nations and discuss coalition efforts to ultimately degrade and destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
 
At the meeting, hosted by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey, the President reiterated that: 
  • The U.S. will take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria, so ISIL cannot find safe haven anywhere.
  • The U.S. will act as part of a broad international coalition, because this is not our fight alone.
President Obama meets with more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss coalition efforts in the campaign against ISIL

President Barack Obama participates in a meeting hosted by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss the coalition efforts in the ongoing campaign against ISIL. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Commander, U.S. Central Command also participates in the meeting at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Oct. 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

FLOTUS asked: “Turnip for What?”

On Tuesday, the First Lady hosted her very first Vine and Twitter Q & A to answer questions about Let's Move! before welcoming students to the White House for the annual fall harvest. During the Q & A, the First Lady answered a range of questions – including healthy Halloween ideas, her favorite fall vegetables, the status of the White House bees, and asked, turnip for what?

Take a look at the full Q & A on Storify, and be sure to follow Mrs. Obama on Twitter and Instagram for additional updates.

Want to see even more? Be sure to check out the White House Blog, this week's episode of West Wing Week, and the White House's official Twitter account:

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Weekly Wrap Up: #ItsOnUs

This week, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat, met with National Spelling Bee winners, announced a major increase in our efforts to help fight Ebola in Wes... Read more »

What’s a Continuing Resolution and Why Does It Matter?

This week, Congress passed and President Obama signed something called a Continuing Resolution, an important measure that ensures our government has the resources necessary to address key domestic and national security goals in the months ahead, inclu... Read more »

West Wing Week: 09/19/14 or “You guys aren’t usually this quiet are you?”

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, the President celebrated the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, awarded the Medal of Honor to two American heroes, detailed U.S. efforts to combat the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa at the CDC in Atlanta, spoke to the troops at MacDill Air Force Base about our strategy against ISIL before returning to meet with the Ukraninan President. That's September 12 to 19 or "You guys aren't usually this quiet are you?" 

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