Weekly Columns

Arkansans have a proud history of serving this country in the military. As a state that is home to thousands of active duty military personnel and 257,000 veterans, we have a special respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom. 

This month, in appreciation of the service and sacrifices of the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform, we celebrate Loyalty Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Victory in Europe Day. We honor the bravery and sacrifice of the selfless heroes currently on active duty with Armed Forces Day and on Memorial Day we recognize those who served our nation who are no longer with us. With a number of special days honoring our warriors, this month is recognized as National Military Appreciation Month. 

Arkansans have always been willing to do their part to serve and protect. Our troops stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base and the 188th Fighter Wing and those serving in the Arkansas National Guard have proven their dedication, perseverance and commitment to excellence in defending this country. Besides serving in conflicts across the globe, military personnel are called to help make the world a better place. While the 188th Fighter Wing is known for its air support, members are offering a different kind of support in Guatemala. Members are building a medical clinic as part of a humanitarian aid and military engineering mission demonstrating our nation’s support and commitment to Guatemala. 

While our military helps people around the world, we need to continue our support for our active duty personnel and our veterans. As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee I’m engaged and working on protecting and preserving the benefits our servicemembers have earned and deserve. 

Recently I introduced legislation to continue an important program that serves our wounded warriors. More than 40 thousand members of our Armed Forces have been injured since 2003 and some of the injuries are life changing. Our troops deserve programs that will help them rehabilitate and improve their quality of life. Continuing our partnership with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) offers our veterans opportunities to become more active and carry on the rehabilitation process. This is a great way to harness the USOC’s expertise of using physical activity for both physical and mental health rehabilitation. 

Other efforts are underway to provide rehabilitation through outdoor-based therapies. Rivers of Recovery is an innovative program that shares our passion for helping our veterans who have been physically and psychologically injured during their service to our nation and I was happy to help welcome the program to Arkansas. Recently we joined some of our wounded warriors on the White River to experience what this program offers. 

As we celebrate the contributions and the courage of our servicemembers during National Military Appreciation Month, understand this gratitude is something we can share all year round. Please join me in celebrating the valor and courage of our Armed Forces and veterans by thanking a family member, friend or neighbor who selflessly sacrifices to defend our freedom.