This year, Veterans Day also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. As I reflect on this milestone year and all the men and women who have defended our great experiment in self-governance since our founding, I can’t help but also reflect on some of the courageous conversations those veterans have had with their leaders in Congress.
My mind and heart go back to a veterans town hall I hosted in my district a few years ago. It was around the time that former VA Secretary McDonald had compared the deadly wait times at clinics to the wait times at Disney.
I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of frustration that filled that room. Veterans felt that no one was listening to them, and that serious changes needed to be made for them to receive the care they earned. Each day, my office receives phone calls and letters that reflect those same concerns.
It’s hard to describe in words how powerful it was to see grown men who have been trained to kill in defense of our country, weep in front of other such men because they can’t pick up their newborns or play on the floor with their toddlers — all because they received substandard care at the VA.
Our veterans have met every mission we’ve asked of them. When our nation was threatened, they left behind loved ones, not knowing if it was goodbye for now, or goodbye for good. They are our heroes, and deserve a hero’s treatment when the tours end and they return home.
All too often, however, America’s veterans feel like a burden on the country they’ve sworn to defend. And the agency whose sole mission is to serve them has become disconnected from that mission.
As one of their representatives in Congress, and as a grateful American, I am proud of the work this Republican majority has done to serve our veterans and fulfill the promises our country made to them.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 and the VA MISSION Act represent important steps in our work to restore trust, hold bad employees accountable, and most importantly, improve care. Our work continues.
Roughly 80 veterans served in the House during the 115th Congress, and each one of them is a daily reminder of our responsibilities. Though the dynamics will be changing in the House chamber, our dedication to our servicemen and women will not.
Just as the wounds of war last a lifetime, so does America’s commitment to our veterans.
May God continue to bless the United States of America.