Column: Our veterans deserve the thanks of a grateful nation
Last updated 11/14/2019 at 10:54am
I have never met a veteran who did not inspire me. From the hundreds of veterans who receive assistance from my office seeking lost medals or help with VA benefits to the veterans and their families I meet at community events and pinning ceremonies throughout Central Washington, each of them has a unique story.
I have met men who served together and became family, traveling across the country every year for a reunion. I have met women who, after being told that they should stay home and become a housewife, packed up their bags and served in the Vietnam War. I have met families, grieving the loss of their sons, daughters, and spouses, who are hoping their story and their sacrifice live on.
Our nation’s veterans deserve our eternal gratitude because they choose to stand up for Americans. They choose to fight. They choose to sacrifice. They choose to protect and defend the United States because they are proud of their country, and we must return the favor.
I have hosted several Vietnam veteran pinning ceremonies over the last year to recognize the men and women of Central Washington who fought for our country in the Vietnam War. Many of them did not receive the hero’s welcome home that they deserved, but now, 50 years later, I was proud to be able to honor them in partnership with the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration.
I was in high school during the Vietnam War, and I remember many of our friends and neighbors going off to war and some – but not all – returning home. Some of them gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and the others gave up more than I can imagine. Their service for our country cannot and should not be forgotten.
The lapel pin and certificate of congressional recognition are just small tokens, but they mean so much more. I believe they truly represent the thanks of a grateful nation.
Thanking them is not enough. We also must ensure our veterans receive the highest quality care and benefits we can provide. I recently visited the Walla Walla VA Medical Center, which serves many of the veterans from the 4th Congressional District. I toured their facilities – including the newly-opened same-day clinic for veterans – and learned about how they are implementing the VA MISSION Act. This legislation was signed into law in 2018 and expands access for veterans to receive care outside of VA hospitals and clinics, which is critical in rural areas like Central Washington.
Allowing veterans to seek health care options close to home can not only greatly improve their quality of life, but it can be lifesaving. I was proud to support the VA MISSION Act, and I look forward to its continued implementation.
This Veterans Day – and every day – I encourage you to thank a veteran for their service, for their sacrifice, and for their devotion to our great country.
I am hosting a Veteran Service Fair on December 14 at the Richland Red Lion from 10 AM – 2PM. I am bringing together regional and federal organizations who can offer resources, information, and assistance regarding healthcare and VA benefits, counseling, and employment opportunities. The event is free and open to all Central Washington veterans and their families.