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Visita ao Instituto dos Pupilos do Exército por ocasião do seu 100º aniversário
Visita ao Instituto dos Pupilos do Exército por ocasião do seu 100º aniversário
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Speech delivered by the President of the Republic on the occasion of his visit to the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel
Lisbon, 19 December 2008

Honourable Deputy Speaker of Parliament,
Honourable President of the Commission for National Defence,
Honourable Secretary of State for National Defence and Issues of the Sea,
Honourable Chiefs of the General Staff of the Branches of the Armed Forces,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Honourable Officers of the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel,
Illustrious Guests,

The Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel has come a long way since my last visit to this headquarters on the occasion of its inaugural act in November 1993.

And I am very pleased to return to this House which so greatly contributed towards supporting and dignifying the former combatants who gave so much in the service of Portugal.

War, with all its brutality, is one of the more recurrent occurrences in the history of humanity.

It is true that democracy and the interdependence of States has promoted a trend towards the reduction of wars between the more developed countries but, away from these regions, war continues to be a frequent event, in spite of the good will and good intentions of those who deplore it.

In this context, the Military Institution, conveniently adapted to the new realities, continues essential to guarantee the security of States, mainly through greater investment in global security.

Along with this, we have to recognize the importance that security represents for the promotion of the conditions required for the sustained development of Nations, for the respect for values and human rights.

However unquestionable the role of the military for the society in which it is framed, it cannot be ignored that War, along with its political and social effects, is also made of sacrifice and pain, with many suffering, in body and soul, the price for the accomplished duty.

The debt of gratitude and the tribute due to those who became handicapped in the service of the Nation requires that priority be given to the treatment they must be provided with.

Those that gave all in the service of us all must be placed on the peak of our concerns.

Rather than a duty of the State, our conscience demands that the specificity of the situation imposed upon these citizens be recognized.

The Country owes special respect to those who, in their youth, sacrificed the best part of their lives on behalf of the Nation, and still bear today, with character and stoicism, the harshness of those times.

A country with no memory is a country which is not worthy of its history or deserving of its future.

The Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel is the result of the endeavour and initiative of a number of military personnel maimed in the service of the country in the African Wars.

The inadequate situation in which these Portuguese lived, both in military career and young men mobilized in the service of the Nation, were not an isolated case, but had been preceded by the difficult social situation which also afflicted the handicapped survivors of World War I.

The Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel has been assuming a determining role, not just as an institution dedicated to the rehabilitation and social integration of the handicapped members of the Armed Forces, but also in support of the families of the deceased personnel within risk of poverty and social exclusion.

I would also like to enhance the relevant role that the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel performed in the institutionalization of the National Secretariat for Rehabilitation, in the process to create the Federation of Sports for the Handicapped and in their contribution for the creation of the Gaia Professional Rehabilitation Centre, nowadays well qualified at European level.

It can be stated without a hint of doubt that the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel has known well how to comply with the mission inherited from its founders.

The State has the duty to recognize the services that citizens, whether volunteers or mobilized, granted to the Country, giving themselves exemplarily, such that many of them suffered enormous costs for the remainder of their lives.

Much has meanwhile been materialized. Issued legislation brought about the Nation’s political will to recognize the specificity of the Armed Forces handicapped personnel, in such sensitive areas as medical, medication and prosthetic assistance, rehabilitation and social support. .

Portugal is going through a period filled with difficulties.

It is necessary, however, to ensure the adequate support that the Armed Forces handicapped personnel veritably deserve and avoid the degradation of their social condition.

I am well aware of the main issues that affect the Armed Forces handicapped personnel.

The main priority is to support a debilitated health strongly affected by natural ageing, and which requires, along with the more vulnerable situations of poverty and social exclusion, the continued application of a combined action of various departments of the State.

I want to address a word of great esteem and deep gratitude to the families of the Armed Forces handicapped personnel. They have always been at the front to support the rehabilitation and the social inclusion of those they care for.

It was the families who, since the very beginning, provided the support for those that, from a moment to another, saw their dreams and personal projects in tatters.

It is the families, still today, that face the greatest difficulties and give their best efforts, combined with the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel, to develop the actions required for the improvement of the living conditions of their handicapped folk.

Mister President of the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel,

The Association has completed 34 years, a notable course as a pioneer of some of the most relevant initiatives carried out in Portugal in the field of support for the handicapped.

An important fight against social exclusion has resulted from this notable action, shown by the purposeful and unselfish support for the rehabilitation of the handicapped personnel of the Armed Forces, and their full integration into society.

It is my belief, as President of the Republic, that the time has arrived, on behalf of the People of Portugal, to distinguish the brilliant services provided by the Association of the Armed Forces Handicapped Personnel, evidenced by their permanent defence of the values of civilization, for the benefit of dignifying the human being, social justice and the promotion of freedom, by awarding it the title of honorary member of the Order of Freedom.

My congratulations and grateful thanks.

To you all, my sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas and a New Year of Peace, Union and, above all, Good Health.

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