EDITORIAL: Honor veterans with thanks, assistance

Reach out to our heroes to thank them, then reach out to Congress and the Legislature to help them.

I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon our citizens to observe Monday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day, in tribute to those who have thus added strength to the Nation and in renewed dedication to their work, building peace with honor among all nations.”

‑ President Eisenhower, Oct. 8, 1954.

They put their lives on the line to protect us.

They sacrifice their pursuit of wealth and individual interests, their connections to their families, their personal comfort, and their time on this Earth to make our country and our world safer.

They serve not for glory, but for duty.

As President Eisenhower said 65 years ago in establishing the first Veterans Day, they have added strength to our nation.

And it is for this reason we take time today to honor and thank them.

Certainly, if you see a veteran today, perhaps wearing a special hat or patch, or sporting a special license plate or bumper sticker on their vehicle indicating their service, go up to him or her and shake their hand. Say thank you for their service. Maybe offer to buy them a cup of coffee or a beer.

If there’s a Veterans Day ceremony in your town, take an hour and attend to show your support and respect.

If there’s a fundraiser at the VFW or American Legion coming up in your community, make a point to attend and be generous.

Those are a couple of ways to honor their service.

But there are other ways, more tangible ways, to thank them.

And that is to help ensure that they get the services and assistance they need from the government.

Contact your local, state and federal lawmakers and get them to support bills that improve veterans’ access to health care, that provide for mental health services and social programs to those who are struggling, that offer local property tax breaks so veterans can stay in their homes, that offer educational support for vets and their families.

There are dozens of pieces of legislation pending in the state Legislature and Congress that provide actual help for veterans, beyond a handshake and a “Thank you for your service.”

Some of this legislation has been pending for years without becoming law. It’s time to change that.

Pending before the U.S. Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee since the first of the year, for instance, are nearly 100 pieces of legislation awaiting action — including bills that would give preference to veterans on certain government purchases and expand access to in-state college tuition and child care to boost veteran employment; that would ensure that children and spouses of veterans are taken care of; that would address the problem of suicide and homelessness among veterans by ensuring that centers are staffed and funded; that provide recognition of the service of those exposed to certain dangerous herbicides used in combat situations and to provide treatment of hearing problems associated with exposure to explosives and gunshots; and by making it easier for disabled veterans to gain access to benefits.

In the state Legislature, there are more than 560 pending pieces of legislation, offering tax breaks and exemptions for veterans and their families, tuition assistance, employment assistance, help buying medication and prosthetic devices, assistance in accessing residential health care facilities, and financial breaks on everything from access to state parks to hunting licenses to public transportation.

One bill would establish a task force that would evaluate and make recommendations on current practices relating to mental health and suicide prevention efforts.

And still other bills would address veteran homelessness and poverty.

There’s a virtually unlimited number of ways government officials and, by extension, citizens can show their respect and support for veterans.

When you’re reaching out to a vet today, also reach out to your representatives in Congress and the state Legislature and urge them to sponsor and push for passage of these bills.

Make Veterans Day truly a day to show our respect and gratitude for our veterans and their service.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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