Weekly Columns

We recognize and honor the men and women called to serve our nation in uniform on Veterans Day. 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. 

There are more than 20 million living veterans, more than 250,000 of whom call Arkansas home. Honoring our veterans is one of my greatest privileges as a U.S. Senator. Earlier this month I was fortunate to recognize the service and valor of 15 Arkansas veterans during the Arkansas Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony. 

The Hall of Fame was created in 2011 to honor the service, sacrifice and accomplishments of Arkansas veterans. The 2014 inductees come from all corners of the state and served in conflicts from WWII through Operation Iraqi Freedom. This year was personally special as the class included Maj. Gen. Ron Chastain who continues his service to Arkansas in my Little Rock office. He served in Desert Storm and commanded the Arkansas Army National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

These 15 inductees represent hundreds of medals and commendations including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Crosses and Silver Star Medal for Gallantry. 

While these veterans have their medals and commendations earned during their time in uniform, many more do not. That’s why my office works to obtain the recognition Arkansas veterans did not receive while serving. In 2014 my office has helped 121 veterans and their families obtain service medals. 

During a recent service medal presentation in Bella Vista, I was reminded about what these medals mean to families whose loved ones are no longer alive. Lynn McCullough of Bentonville, who accepted the medals his father Travis earned during WWII, said these medals are a cherished piece of family history. 

These commendations are a proud reminder of the service and sacrifice of our military. It is so important that we continue to present these medals to educate others about the importance of our military and the selflessness of the men and women who served. 

We must recommit ourselves to fighting on their behalf for the benefits they earned and improve the service and efficiency of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Honoring our promise to the men and women who selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way has always been one of my highest priorities. As the son of a Master Sergeant in the Air Force I understand the sacrifices of our veterans and their families and I am using my seat on this committee to improve access to veteran health care services, expand educational opportunities and create opportunities for our veterans to find meaningful employment once they leave the service so they can provide for their families. 

We salute our veterans for their selfless commitment and immeasurable sacrifice to put their lives on the line for liberty. To all of our veterans, thank you and may God bless you, your families and the United States of America.

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