Weekly Columns

On Veterans Day we reflect on the sacrifices of the men and the women who put their lives on the line for liberty. These men and women and their families are selfless Americans who deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless efforts to protect our country. 

Having grown up in a military family I understand the sacrifices of our military personnel and their families. My dad served in the Air Force for 20 years and I am reminded of his service and sacrifice as a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee as we discuss ways to improve the care and programs offered to these heroes. We have a commitment to take care of those who selflessly served on our behalf. We are working to uphold the government’s end of the agreement and finding ways we can improve services for veterans and their families and fill the gaps. 

I am happy to say that we are making great strides. In August, President Obama signed a package of legislation into law to improve veterans’ benefits. Included in this legislation was The Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act of 2011, the first piece of legislation I introduced in the Senate. This provision clarifies the definition of rehabilitation so veterans are guaranteed care that adequately addresses their physical and mental health needs, as well as quality of life and prospects for long-term recovery and success. This was a great victory for our veterans and their families who are fighting the unseen injuries of war. 

In addition to improving health care and access, expanding educational opportunities and providing access to good, well-paying jobs for our nation’s veterans are priorities. We must provide our veterans with the tools they need to succeed in today’s competitive economy. We’re working on programs to help veterans who are small business owners or interested in starting a small business, those seeking education opportunities and looking for employment as well. 

With nearly one million American veterans unemployed, we have an obligation to provide each and every person who wears the uniform with the tools they need to secure long-term, meaningful employment. That’s why I introduced, and have been a leader on, legislation to provide veterans with additional opportunities and tools to find employment. Additionally, I have strongly supported two bipartisan veterans jobs bills, the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act” and the “Veterans Skills to Jobs Act,” that have passed Congress and were signed into law this past year. 

We salute our veterans for their selfless commitment and immeasurable sacrifice to protect this nation and its ideals so we can continue to be the greatest, freest country the world has ever known. Let us always honor the service of our veterans as we address the important challenges facing the nation. To all of our veterans, thank you and May God bless you, your families, and the United States of America.