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Memorial Day Remembrance for Freedom’s Foundation
This Memorial Day, as we honor America’s sons and daughters who have laid down their lives so this Nation might retain its hard won freedoms, let us celebrate the fruits of their sacrifice for our country’s future.
Since we were school kids, many of us can recall reciting President Abraham Lincoln’s address at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As he honored the battle’s valiant and selfless soldiers, he also issued an enduring call to action for every living citizen of our great land.
Lincoln said, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they, who fought here, have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
What bolder banner to march beneath than our cherished memories of our honored dead on Memorial Day in rededicating ourselves to honor the sacrifices of our veterans. They, who quietly live among us, many with unhealed wounds and unmet needs, deserve no less.
As a Member of the House Military Veterans Caucus, I am working hard to strengthen and improve the health care system for our veterans, helping to secure additional resources for the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Beckley and Huntington, as well as the Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) in Greenbrier and Logan Counties. I have been successfully pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to focus more of its resources and efforts on the health care needs of elderly veteran populations in underserved, rural communities in southern West Virginia.
I am fighting hard against budget cuts that would harm our military retirees and veterans, as well as opposing draconian changes to the military retirement system and proposed increases in TRICARE fees and copayments. I am also pressing to remove inequities that prohibit veterans from concurrently receiving both retired pay and disability compensation, as well as helping to ensure that veterans receive their annual COLA for disability compensation and pension benefits.
With large numbers of veterans returning home after service in conflicts involving Iraq and Afghanistan, our Nation is facing a new wave of veterans who are striving to successfully reenter civilian life. Recognizing their needs, I have been active and vocal in championing legislation to strengthen and improve the Wounded Warriors Act, as well as the “Post-9/11 GI Bill,” in an effort to provide educational assistance and employment opportunities for returning veterans. Last year, I sponsored a jobs fair to bring together prospective employers with veterans looking to reenter the workforce. And, as the top Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I crafted the Mobilizing Opportunities for Veterans Employment (MOVE) Act, which would provide hiring preferences for veterans in projects that use Federal transportation dollars, giving them a boost toward gaining new employment.
But there is more to do. On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind. This day and every day, let us honor their service with actions that fulfill our commitment to our troops, their families, and our veterans, and that are worthy of our grateful nation.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) represents West Virginia’s 3rd District
For more information contact: Diane Luensmann (202) 225-3452