Weekly Columns

Veterans Day: A Celebration of Service

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Washington, November 9, 2011 | comments

Veterans Day serves as a powerful reminder of how our nation’s liberty and justice has been preserved by the dedication of our armed forces. But this special day also underscores our nation’s commitment to its veterans and their families.

This Veterans Day, let us remember our commitment to care for those who so bravely fought for our freedom. Let us honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.  And let us never forget the purpose of this important day: Veterans Day is a celebration to commemorate our service members and their families for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. 

As a veteran, I support legislation to better the health and well-being of our service members and their families through my work in Congress, and as a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Making sure our service members have a better quality of life for the sacrifices they made is always at the forefront of my mind. Recently, the U.S. Congress passed, and I voted for, important legislation to spur economic growth within the veterans’ community – the bipartisan Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act. 

The VOW Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that addresses veteran unemployment. Specifically, it includes four important elements to care for veterans: (1) aids in the transition process when service members are discharged and seeking a job; (2) provides education and training for our veterans; (3) strengthens the protections provided by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) so those who serve in the National Guard will be reemployed upon return; (4) and works with the Department of Labor to identify roadblocks our veterans are facing while seeking to obtain employment.

Many of our veterans who suffer from a disability due to military service are still struggling to get their claims processed in a timely and efficient manner.  It is evident we need to improve the system. That is why I am pleased to support the Veterans' Benefits Training Improvement Act, which will improve processing for compensation and pension benefit claims. The bill creates an individualized training program for all employees and managers who process or supervise the processing of disability claims.  A test will also be administered to employees to determine where the greatest deficiencies are in the program or the need for improvement.  The Veterans' Benefits Training Improvement Act has passed both the House and the Senate and has been signed into law.

I am pleased the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 894 – legislation that provides veterans with a cost-of-living increase for the first time in two years. This adjustment is equal to the 3.6 percent annual increase that will be provided to Social Security recipients. The bill will directly improve the well-being of our service members by providing much needed assistance for disabled veterans and their families who are currently receiving VA disability benefits.

In unhealthy economic times, many in Tennessee and across America are struggling to make ends meet, including many veterans. The cost-of-living increase that many of our veterans will receive through this important legislation represents an opportunity to take care of those who have given so much to take care of us and help them through hard times.  

As we celebrate and give back to all those who so bravely fought to protect the freedom of this nation, let us also remember all of the men and women who are currently deployed and who are in harm’s way. They are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

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