Weekly Columns

Veterans Day is an important day of remembrance and recognition. Every day the men and women of our Armed Forces stand in defense of our nation, our cherished values, and our way of life. As our servicemembers have risked their lives to protect the interests of our nation, we must honor our commitment to support them once they leave military life.

Honoring our promise to the men and women who selflessly place themselves in harm’s way has always been one of my highest priorities. That’s why I have worked to improve health care and access, expand educational opportunities and provide access to good, well-paying jobs for our nation’s veterans.  We must provide our veterans with the tools they need to succeed in today’s competitive economy.

As the son of a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, I grew up in a family that had values rooted in military tradition and today I rely on those as I craft legislation to help our veterans.   That is why the first bill I introduced this Congress aims to improve the care for our wounded warriors suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury.  

The Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act of 2011 clarifies the definition of rehabilitation so veterans will receive 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 bipartisan and bicameral legislation passed the House of Representatives and was approved by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee I am helping to secure benefits our veterans deserve, and improve existing benefits to meet the needs of our more than 23 million American veterans - including 257,000 who call Arkansas home.

We are fortunate to have great a great VA Health Care System in Arkansas and we’re working to expand services to our veterans that allow them easy access to care throughout the state. VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics enable our veterans to receive the care they need without having to drive unreasonable distances or rely on family and friends to take them to their appointments, making it easier for them to get the health care they need.

Throughout Arkansas, we’re taking a targeted approach to help veterans struggling with substance abuse. Veterans Drug Treatment Courts have been established in central Arkansas in Pulaski, Perry and Lonoke Counties and have been very successful at helping put these heroes on a path to recovery. Washington County recently implemented a drug treatment court and other counties throughout the state have expressed interest in promoting awareness and prevention of substance abuse among our veterans and to give them the help they need.

It is important that we all continue to serve our veterans. Our cherished freedoms were secured through their sacrifices and we honor and respect our veterans and their families for those sacrifices.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is a significant marker in our nation’s history and world history. At this time in 1918, the international community declared the end of World War I. This date has been reserved to honor our nation’s heroes, first as Armistice Day and now as Veterans Day. Although this is an important day of celebration and remembrance, our veterans deserve to be recognized year round. Let us always honor their service 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.