Today, November 11, we celebrate Veterans’ Day as we remember all the men and women of our armed services who have served us courageously and nobly across the years. These brave heroes represent all races, nationalities, religions, beliefs and political parties.
We remember that the richness and diversity of America is reflected in the armed services, and that the armed services have historically lead America in breaking down the social and cultural barriers that have divided us as a nation. As we unite in our pride of our diversity, we become stronger as a nation.
Our commitment to America’s veterans is equal to the full measure of devotion that our veterans committed to us. President Obama and congressional Democrats respect that allegiance and have worked to provide additional resources to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
As we thank veterans, we also embrace them and their loved ones to comfort their pains. Many have made great sacrifices of life and blood, as well as broken marriages, family separation, financial hardship and lost civilian career opportunities.
Today’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans carry a heavy weight of service, with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) affecting as many as 700,000 returning soldiers while US fatalities have risen to over 5,000 and injuries to well over 31,000. Vietnam (where 60,000 died) has veterans that increasingly suffer with cancers and genetic disorders caused by Agent Orange exposure. Many World War II and Korea veterans continue to suffer from war injuries and lingering effects of battle.
We thank President Obama and the Congress for recognizing and addressing the many problems that we have identified in the veterans programs over the past years. The President’s proposed VA budget “includes the largest single-year percentage increase in VA funding in three decades” and the expansion of VA health coverage.
The administration is also working to increase the number of Veteran Centers and mobile health clinics, expand access to care in underserved rural areas, put new focus on injuries like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury and new efforts to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness.
In 1944, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt enacted the historic G.I. Bill, initiating Democrats’ longstanding commitment to providing America’s veterans access to higher education and the promise of success as a civilian — a commitment that remains strong today. We continue to ensure the G.I. Bill has the appropriate resources to meet its goals, which also includes the full implementation of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill — which guarantees that all post-9/11 veterans have an opportunity to earn a college education.
Let us never forget their service. Veterans deserve and have earned our respect each and every day.