In Recognition of All Veterans Who Have Served

Mr. Speaker, this week we honor our Nation's veterans--not just the thousands who have risked their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the millions more who over the years have answered the call to arms and served as a member of the United States Armed Forces.

Since the founding of this Nation, Americans have battled courageously to protect the helpless, defeat despots and spread the cause of freedom to every corner of the globe. Most of the men and women who served in World War I are no longer with us. World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans still walk among us today, and we owe them the most heartfelt gratitude. 

The torch was passed to a new generation after the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since then, hundreds of thousands of young people have donned the uniform of a soldier, Marine, sailor or airman in our Global War on Terrorism. They have chosen an often arduous life not for fame or riches, but because they believe in America and her ideals. These great young people have embraced the challenge. From the dusty streets of Iraq to the jagged mountains of Afghanistan, they have done their duty with honor, fighting for their country and each other. 

I have traveled overseas several times to Iraq and Afghanistan to meet our military personnel and have witnessed them doing their job magnificently; they fight voluntarily on our behalf. I was awed by their courage, determination and dedication as they combat a brutal enemy thousands of miles from home. 

The times have changed, but the sacrifices have not. More than 2,000 U.S. service members have been killed and over 16,000 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

We in Congress must honor our veterans not just with words, but with deeds. The survivors of those who make the ultimate sacrifice must be cared for in a manner that honors their memory. Benefits and health care must remain readily available for service members and their families--active duty, Reserve or Guard. And those wounded warriors who return home must be mended back to health, in body and spirit.

In my district, I have convened a working group to assist veterans in every possible way. The goal of this group is for communities to create innovative and effective programs which show appreciation and offer financial, moral and physical support for veterans. 

Over 25 million U.S. veterans live among us today. You may know one. Pause a moment and thank them for their service. They deserve no less.