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Pa ete rt ra Is ns an D sP ay eC 2 I a 02 Le DI 0 tI On

BI November 2020 Volume 54, No. 5

WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME With essays by Pamela Powers, Rick Scott, Mike Bost, Larry Bucshon, Bill Johnson, Seth Moulton, Jimmy Panetta, and Mikie Sherrill

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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 54, Number 5

Bipartisan Special Edition


“On November 11, Let’s Thank Our Women Veterans.”


“Protecting and Serving the Families of our Nation.” By U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL)


“It is Our Duty to Fight for Them.” By U.S. Representative Mike Bost (R-IL-12)


“Thank Them with Words, but also with Actions.” By U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon (R-IN-8)


“We’re All in This Together.” By U.S. Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH-6)


“I’m Thinking about Every American Who Serves.” By U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA-6)


“They Made It a Priority to Fight for Us.”


“Every American, Republican or Democrat, has a Sacred Responsibility to Our Veterans.” By U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11)

Politics & Perspective 23.

From Armistice Day to Veterans Day: How History Has Led us to Honor All Heroes of Our Nation By Deirdre O’Rourke

Publisher The Ripon Society President Jim Conzelman Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Judy Van Rest Jim Murtha John Feehery

Editor Lou Zickar Deputy Editor Kyle Chance Editorial Assistant Autumn Reed Frenzel Fellow Deirdre O’Rourke © Copyright 2020 By The Ripon Society All Rights Reserved

The Ripon Forum (ISSN 0035-5526) is published by The Ripon Society. The Ripon Society is located at 1155 15th Street, NW, Ste. 550 Washington, DC 20005. Postmaster, send address changes to: The Ripon Forum, 1155 15th Street, NW, Ste. 550 Washington, DC 20005.

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RIPON FORUM November 2020

Comments, opinion editorials and letters should be addressed to: The Ripon Forum, 1155 15th Street, NW, Ste. 550, Washington, DC 20005 or may be transmitted electronically to: In publishing this magazine, The Ripon Society seeks to provide a forum for fresh ideas, well-researched proposals, and for a spirit of criticism, innovation, and independent thinking within the Republican Party.

THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Cory Gardner - Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Pat Roberts Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker Todd Young U.S. Representatives: Susan W. Brooks - House Co-Chair Rodney Davis - House Co-Chair Greg Walden - House Co-Chair Jackie Walorski - House Co-Chair Martha Roby - Vice Chair, South Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Mark Amodei Don Bacon Troy Balderson Andy Barr Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole Doug Collins Paul Cook Tom Emmer Ron Estes Brian Fitzpatrick Bill Flores Kay Granger Sam Graves French Hill Bill Huizenga Bill Johnson Dave Joyce John Katko Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Cathy McMorris Rodgers Paul Mitchell John Moolenaar Tom Reed Tom Rice Steve Scalise John Shimkus Pete Stauber Steve Stivers Glenn “GT” Thompson Mac Thornberry Mike Turner Fred Upton Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack

In this edition Since 1986, Gallup has been measuring the level of trust that people have in key institutions in the United States. Each year since that time, the U.S. military has been the institution most trusted by the American people. It is trusted more than the media. It is trusted more than big business and organized labor. And it is trusted more than the three branches of our government, as well. If there is a reason for that trust, it rests with the men and women who volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces. Each takes an oath to defend our freedom and preserve our system of government. And each knows that, in doing so, they may someday be called upon to risk their lives on our behalf. Today, there are about 1.4 million men and women serving on active duty, and about 860,000 serving in the military reserves. There are also about 18 million Americans who once wore the uniform of the United States. The country pays tribute to these Americans each year on Veterans Day. And for the second year in a row, The Ripon Forum is publishing this special edition as a small way of paying tribute to them as well. As with last year’s tribute, we reached out to a number of lawmakers in Congress who also served in the military and asked them a simple question – “What does Veterans Day mean to me?” Among other things, we asked them to share stories about their time in uniform and how they mark this important holiday each year. We also America, as well. We also contacted Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Pamela Powers – who spent nearly 30 years in the Air Force and retired as a Colonel in 2018 – and asked her this same question. We are honored to feature in this special edition of the Forum her response to this question in the form of an essay. We are also honored to feature essays from a bipartisan group of veteran lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, and U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill. As noted, these lawmakers are both Republicans and Democrats -- which is how it should be when talking about veterans issues. Indeed, one of the reasons that the military is viewed as being the most trusted institution in America is that it is also viewed as being above politics. That is a good thing — especially at a time when our country is so deeply divided along partisan lines. It is also something both parties, and all Americans, should seek to preserve. By publishing this bipartisan Veterans Day Special Edition of The Ripon Forum, we are attempting to do just that, while at the same time honoring those brave men and women who put service above self. Lou Zickar Editor of The Ripon Forum

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“On November 11, Let’s Thank Our Women Veterans.” by PAMELA POWERS

I recently saw a picture of two fighter pilots, one is sacrifice, regardless of gender. I saw firsthand who was in her 90s and the other who was in her 40s. the inclusion of women into combat roles and the Betty “Tack” Blake was one of the Women Air transformation of our military, and now I’m honored Force Service Pilots (WASPs), the first group of women to serve as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ first to become military aviators during World War II. Betty female deputy secretary. was flying at age 14 and met Amelia Earhart in 1935 I’m not the only woman leader at VA, and more – Earhart told her to “keep going and do something than 60 percent of this department is staffed by women. exciting and show that women can fly.” After watching These women are advancing an important goal – the bombing of Pearl Harbor, making sure that the women who Betty joined the Navy and was have shown grit in serving this one of the first women in history nation realize that they too are to fly a fighter aircraft. Despite Veterans, and that this is their VA. her patriotism, Betty and other VA is working to ensure women women pilots faced criticism and Veterans can be served at all our weren’t considered Veterans until hospitals and clinics and have decades later, in 2010. access to gender-specific quality The other woman in the photo care in a safe and welcoming was Nicole “FiFi” Malachowski, environment. This is a top who was the first female Air priority at VA because women Force Thunderbird Pilot. Nicole are increasingly coming to VA has a similar story – she was for care. The number of women flying when she was barely old we serve has more than tripled enough to have a driver’s license, from about 160,000 in 2000 flew more than 188 combat hours, to more than 510,000 in 2018. and was part of the first fighter By 2025, VA will be serving 1 formation to provide security for million women Veterans. Iraq’s democratic elections in Every woman that comes 2005. to VA is finding a department Courage is courage, Separated by decades, both that is undergoing revolutionary Betty and Nicole showed that excellence is excellence, change and modernization, under women are still contributing to leadership of VA Secretary and sacrifice is sacrifice, the the defense of this nation, and Robert Wilkie, who is also a regardless of gender. that there are still hurdles to Veteran. We have made customer overcome. When they took that service our top priority and are picture, Betty told Nicole, “Never working to make it easier for stop believing in yourself, no matter the critics. Just fly Veterans to access care and benefits. These efforts the plane.” Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor all have paid off, as Veteran trust in VA care hit a record the brave men and women who’ve worn the uniform of high this year. this great nation. But this Veterans Day, I can’t help but We have given Veterans the choice of using think of the women like Betty who paved the way for community care whenever it’s in their medical Nicole and thousands of other women patriots. interest, which puts Veterans at the center of their I am one of those women. After nearly 30 years of care decisions. We are working with the Department service in an Air Force uniform, I learned that courage of Defense to help members of the military transition is courage, excellence is excellence, and sacrifice back to civilian life, modernizing the way we 4

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track Veterans’ health history, and working hard on for generations that love of country does not reside President Trump’s plan to reduce Veteran suicide. And only in the hearts of men, and that they too can “do we have made it our mission to ensure our women something” to defend the liberty and freedom we all Veterans are honored and cared cherish. for with the same dedication So, on this Veterans day, and commitment in which we please say thank you to all our serve our male Veterans. They men and women who have served deserve no less. The oldest living U.S. great nation. RF Marine is Dorothy Cole, who just celebrated her 107th Pamela Powers serves as birthday. She decided to join Acting Deputy Secretary at the the Marines after the attack U.S. Department of Veterans on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Affairs. She has nearly 30 years “Everyone was out doing of service in the Air Force and something, the women helping the Department of Defense. the Red Cross or even in the Secretary Powers also served churches they were knitting as the Executive Director for things. So, I decided that the Air Reserve Forces Policy I wanted to do something, Committee and as a Senior and I would go into the Advisor to the Assistant Secretary Marine Corps,” Cole said. of the Air Force, Manpower and Colonel Pamela Powers in Iraq in American women have shown 2016. Reserve Affairs.


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“Protecting and Serving the Families of our Nation.” by RICK SCOTT

I am who I am today because of my tough-love mom and my adopted dad. They lived a hard life – we grew up poor and

bills to ensure veterans get the health care they deserve. I’m working to make sure our veterans can get a great

and worked tirelessly to give their children a better life. They are my heroes. My adopted dad joined the Army as a teenager and was one of the few who did all four combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. What he and our brave men and women in uniform did to protect the freedoms we enjoy is aweinspiring. And we can never forget their accomplishments. I served in the Navy and know

that respects their service. Unfortunately, we’re seeing our veterans and military members being attacked on many fronts. Threats from around the world – including from Communist China – are increasing, and at home, the radical Left has abandoned our men and women in uniform and turned their backs on them. I remember what it was like for American soldiers coming back from Vietnam. Whether you agreed or disagreed with that war, the abuse and insults directed at our military was disgraceful. We’re seeing the same thing today, with those on the Left trying to discredit American values and portraying

members and their families make to keep us safe. One of my favorite jobs as Governor of Florida was meeting veterans. I heard stories of service

was able to pass along the thanks of a grateful state to those who deserve it most, and I awarded more than 14,500 it as morally bankrupt. We can’t It is my hope that we veterans with the Governor’s Veterans allow it. Service Medal. I won’t let those on the never forget that As Governor, I worked every day radical Left distract us from the the primary goal of to make Florida the most military and values that make America great. government is to veteran-friendly state in the nation. The values that my mom taught I supported property tax cuts for me. And it is my hope that we provide for the deployed service members, numerous never forget that the primary common defense. efforts to connect veterans and their goal of government is to provide families to career and educational for the common defense, so our opportunities, and tax breaks for businesses owned by veterans children and grandchildren can live in freedom and peace – and their spouses. and have their shot at the American dream. As a U.S. Senator and member of the Armed Services To our veterans - thank you for your service to our great nation. I applaud your bravery and courage. I will remains a national leader for military and defense and that our never lose sight of one the most important roles I have: to veterans, military members and their families are provided protect and serve the families of our nation. RF the support they need to keep the nation safe and to succeed even after their service. We passed the Military Widow’s Tax Rick Scott represents the state of Florida in the U.S. Senate Elimination Act, allowing military spouses nationwide to where he serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. and Veteran Affairs. In my short time in Congress, we’ve Senator Scott joined the United States Navy, where he served also passed a pay raise for our military members and several active duty as a radar man aboard the USS Glover. 6

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“It is Our Duty to Fight for Them.” by MIKE BOST

Every member of the United States military takes made it possible to identify patients who are at a higher risk an oath to support and defend the Constitution. It is the for a variety of health conditions, like depression or PTSD. foundation of a bond that American servicemembers share This legislation would require the VA to implement these with one another – regardless of branch, rank, station, or practices so that we can get veterans the care they need era. As a Marine, it is a bond I share with my son Stephen, a sooner so that they are less likely to become part of that Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, statistic. and now my grandson Spencer, As the top Republican on who is at Marine Corps Recruit the Disability Assistance and Training. Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, Most years, I spend Veterans I’m also working to ensure that Day with as many of our Southern Illinois veterans as I can. It is a and care they have rightly earned. day I cherish because it gives me I was proud to help introduce the an opportunity to thank a neighbor for putting their life on the line in and Expansion Act in August. This defense of the freedoms we hold package includes bipartisan and dear. bicameral proposals to cut red tape Unfortunately, COVID-19 for education, life insurance, and posed a challenge to our plans, as it has in so many ways this year. State veterans. and local health guidelines may This is progress. But we have limit our opportunities to gather plenty of work left to do. We need together; but they don’t eliminate to continue streamlining efforts the need to express our gratitude for to provide our veterans their our nation’s heroes. As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs of-living adjustment to them and Mike Bost, circa 1980, in a photo taken Committee, that is something I their families; ensure we are hiring when he was at boot camp at Marine strive for each and every day – not Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. just on Veterans Day. medical centers; and modernizing I’ve introduced legislation to outdated systems so that they work While I will never know help combat the veteran suicide for the veterans who use them. crisis. The Access to Suicide We have nearly 55,000 all their names or hear all Prevention Coordinators Act veterans in Southern Illinois and their stories, they are my will require each VA facility over 17 million nationwide. While brothers and sisters. to have at least one suicide I will never know all their names prevention coordinator on staff or hear all their stories, they are to help local veterans. We lose 20 my brothers and sisters. They’ve servicemembers and veterans to gone to battle for our nation and suicide every day and by improving access to these vitally important health professionals, we will hopefully make a they are home. RF difference. But we can’t wait to provide care to veterans once they Mike Bost represents the 12th district of Minnesota in the are already struggling. We must be proactive. That’s why U.S. House of Representatives where he serves on the I introduced the VA Precision Medicine Act which will Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Congressman Bost served help the VA better identify veterans who face higher mental in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982 where he was trained as an electronic specialist and radar repairman. 8

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“Thank Them with Words, but also with Actions.” by LARRY BUCSHON

America is the land of the free because of the brave. to have co-sponsored and supported numerous pieces I am truly thankful for the countless men and women of legislation that have helped millions of veterans who decide to selflessly put themselves between us and across the nation. One of the most significant pieces of danger so that we may live free in the land of liberty. For legislation that we’ve passed during my time in Congress me, Veterans Day is an opportunity to truly appreciate is the VA MISSION Act. This landmark legislation, our veterans and their which was signed into service and to remember law by President Trump that we must not only thank in 2018, is helping to them for their service and build a stronger VA by sacrifices with our words improving the recruitment and public ceremonies, but of medical professionals also with our actions. who care for our veterans, During my medical updating outdated and training, I had the privilege inefficient facilities with to spend part of my modern infrastructure residency at the VA Hospital and supplies, and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. consolidating duplicative While working at the programs into one VA, I cared for countless cohesive program. veterans. I experienced While the VA Mission firsthand what it takes to Act and other reforms of care for veterans and the the VA are having a great unique health challenges impact, we cannot rest on that they can face because these accomplishments. of their service. I also We still have more to spent a decade in the U.S. do to ensure the care we Navy Reserve as a medical are providing veterans During my medical training, I professional, giving me is meeting their needs. additional insights into had the privilege to spend part of Often the scars left on the health issues of those our men and women in my residency at the VA Hospital serving in uniform. uniform are not physical, Even though a great but rather physiological. in Milwaukee. deal has changed in the VA That is why in 2014, I system since my residency, introduced the Ensuring the one thing that has not changed is that our veterans Veterans Resiliency Act, a bill to improve psychiatric have earned the right to quality, accessible, and timely care in military and veteran communities. Many health care through their service to our nation. As a of the brave men and women who have served our Member of Congress and a physician, I believe that it country return home without proper attention to their is our solemn duty as a nation to ensure that we are mental health needs. During my career as a physician, fulfilling our obligation to our nation’s veterans. and my time working at the VA, I saw firsthand the Over the past decade, the VA has faced significant need for new dedicated methods that encourage more challenges ensuring that our nation’s veterans receive psychiatrists to choose a career helping veterans. This the level of care that they have earned through their legislation was structured to help hire many qualified service. Congress has rightly recognized the need psychiatrists across the country to provide our veterans for reforms and additional resources, and I am proud the assistance they need and deserve. While it did not RIPON FORUM November 2020


become law, I am still a tireless advocate for this cause. beaches of Normandy on D-Day. While Irene is no On Veterans Day, I also believe that it is important longer with us, I will forever remember meeting her, that we take the time to reflect upon the service of and I will continue to pass down her story of bravery our veterans and ensure that future generations know and courage. firsthand what past generations have fought and died This Veterans Day, I challenge all Americans to for. That is why one of my join me and find a veteran favorite opportunities as a to personally thank for their Member of Congress is to service and love of our nation personally meet with the men and to take the time to listen it takes to care for veterans and women who have served to their stories. Having served and to hear their stories in the U.S. Navy Reserve for and the unique health firsthand. I frequently greet challenges that they can face nearly a decade, I have the veterans from the 8th District greatest respect for the brave because of their service. who participate in the Honor men and women of our armed Flight of Southwest Indiana. forces that answered the call to To hear the stories from these serve. Putting on the uniform veterans, often veterans of World War II, while they of the United States of America, the greatest team on visit Washington, D.C. is a privilege that I will always Earth, is truly an honor that is unmatched. RF cherish. In 2019, I had the pleasure of meeting the oldest living veteran in Vanderburgh County, Indiana Larry Bucshon represents the 8th district of Indiana in to celebrate her 100th birthday. Irene Blessing served the U.S. House of Representatives. He previously spent as a nurse at the 228th army hospital in England during nearly a decade serving in the United States Navy World War II where she treated men who stormed the Reserve.

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“We’re All in This Together.” by BILL JOHNSON

America’s military veterans are both a living testimony to

for having two years of college fully paid by a grateful nation. Not only would this make college more affordable for young adults and give them real world experience before college, it would enable them to work with others from across our country – people from different races, political views, faiths, different socioeconomic backgrounds – and they would mutually share the common bond of being

of how comparatively few of our fellow citizens choose to risk everything to defend this great nation. Americans are blessed to live in a time of prosperity, abundance, and comfort. Our quality of life is the envy of the world. That’s not to say 2020 has been easy with COVID-19 taking more than 200,000 lives and the disease punching our previously roaring economy in the gut. But it’s accurate to say and deep political and cultural divide we see in our country that American innovation coupled right now is because we lack with our free market economic empathy. It’s because we don’t system has pulled more people out really know one another. We of poverty than any other system in don’t understand and embrace the world. It’s made getting a job, the feelings of Americans who owning a home, having an iPhone, feel differently than we do. We living in relative safety, buying don’t talk with those different a car, shopping in fully stocked from us and learn why their grocery stores, having heat and air views and feelings are not like conditioning because electricity ours. This must end. is dependable and affordable, and We’re all in this together. access to the best medical care in I had the honor of serving the world possible for many. in the United States Air Force But none of these fruits for nearly 27 years. I wouldn’t Second Lieutenant Bill Johnson with his children, of the American Dream are take a million dollars for Josh and Julie, at Williams AFB in Arizona where possible without veterans – a day of it. It made me a he was attending pilot training. because everything relies on our better husband, father, and brave warriors standing guard American. My uniform still at freedom’s gate day and night hangs in my closet, cleaned Everything relies on our protecting us from those who would and pressed. And the core brave warriors standing guard do us harm. And make no mistake, values I learned -- Integrity the wolves are always lurking. at freedom’s gate day and night. First, Service Before Self, and Fewer than eight percent of Excellence in All We Do – are Americans are veterans, and less a road map to a successful life. than one percent of our fellow citizens currently serve on active America would be a better country if more of us had the duty, or in the national guard or reserves. And while there’s experience I was so privileged to have. America would be a nothing inherently wrong with that imbalance, over time it could better place if we had more veterans. create – in fact may already be creating – a fundamental lack of This Veterans Day, seek out a veteran. Ask them about their time in the service. Ask them about those great nation, and an inability to fully appreciate what our veterans they served with, and the shared successes, challenges, have done, and are doing, for us. When a bad day for many and suffering they experienced. Listen to them. And Americans might be a cancelled Uber, a broken smart phone, or rainy weather, a reality check and a different perspective about to protect you – all of us – from those who would seek to what our brave warriors face are needed. destroy everything we hold dear. RF To help with changing that perspective, I’ve introduced legislation called ‘Scholarship for Service: The Building Bill Johnson has represented the 6th district of Ohio in the Better Americans Act.’ This bill would encourage high school U.S. House of Representatives since 2011. Congressman graduates to serve our country in the military (or law enforcement, Johnson entered the United States Air Force in 1973 and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 26 years of service. 14

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“I’m Thinking about Every American Who Serves.” by SETH MOULTON

I’m from New England so I’m used to cold nights, but the coldest night of my life was actually in one of the world’s hottest countries: Iraq. It was early in the invasion and we were dug into mud during a freezing rain. Our intelligence reports told us to anticipate an entire Iraqi armored division, with their best Russian tanks, to hit us that night. The basic assessment was that we were screwed. Our tanks wouldn’t arrive in time, and although the intel later proved wrong, it was a frightening situation, in addition to being freezing.

mental health care: making it routine. Just like an annual physical or teeth cleaning, mental health checkups should be routine. Last year, I got Congress to mandate mental health checkups for service members who experienced combat as that work, expanding the mandate to service members who

like drone operators. I’m thankful that veterans in Congress from both parties, some of whom have essays in this collection, helped me advance that legislation. We also need to make it that I thought to myself, “Why easier for service members to the hell am I here?” seek help outside the chain of Here I was, going to die in command. The Brandon Act, a this patch of mud nobody’s ever bill named for Brandon Caserta, heard of, while all my friends a sailor who was bullied and died back home were out at bars in from suicide because he couldn’t Boston. I guess my parents, who get help outside of his chain of told me joining the Marines was a command, would allow service terrible idea because I would get members to anonymously report myself killed, were right. And for and seek mental health treatment about ten seconds, I thought I had by using a safe phrase like made a terrible mistake. “Brandon Act.” But only ten seconds, Every American—from because then I remembered why veterans, to moms with I had signed up. I wasn’t a sucker, 2nd Lieutenant Seth Moulton on the way to Baghdad. postpartum depression, to and neither were the Marines young people struggling with beside me. I signed up because Truly believing in service – in their identity—deserves mental I didn’t want anybody to go in health care that’s easy to get. my place. Because I didn’t want servant leadership – is what A few weeks ago, Congress to be sitting in a bar back home gets us through. passed the National Suicide when one of my friends was Hotline Designation Act, a bill that I co-wrote with fellow for the rest of the night, I felt a veteran Chris Stewart (R-UT). It will become law this year, little warmer and a lot happier because I remembered that. On that which means pretty soon anyone, anywhere in America will miserable night in a land far away in a war that probably shouldn’t be able to dial 9-8-8 to get help with mental health. have happened, I was exactly where I wanted to be. This Veterans Day, I’m thinking about every American who service of someone you know, remember that it comes at a serves our country. Service to others is the only way any of us can ultimately justify freezing in the mud, sweltering in the jungle, or to serve those who have. Start a conversation with a veteran being stuck deep beneath the Arctic Ocean in a pressurized metal to better understand the cost of war. Get your lawmaker to tube. Truly believing in service—in servant leadership—is what sign on to good mental health care policy. And hold your gets us through. leaders accountable when they fail those who volunteer to These experiences can also take an often unseen and serve our great country. RF unexpected toll, and over the past year or so, I’ve talked about managing post-traumatic stress from my own four tours in the Seth Moulton represents the 6th District of Massachusetts Marine infantry in Iraq. When one of us talks about PTS, we in the U.S. House of Representatives where he serves on the break the stigma that prevents others from getting help. And that Armed Services Committee. He joined the Marines in 2001, ultimately saves lives. months before the 9/11 attacks. It’s why I also advocate for a revolutionary approach to 16

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Building the VA as a Research Enterprise We commend Congress for enacting the Commander John Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S.785), landmark legislation to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ capacity to prevent suicide. The Hannon Act makes critical reforms that move the VA toward becoming a research enterprise. The Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds supports reforms that increase the substantial real-world impact of VA research. Too many of our nation’s Servicemembers and Veterans suffer and have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other brain health conditions. Veterans, and the doctors who treat them, need better diagnostics and therapies achieved by advancing basic research discoveries into tomorrow’s clinical solutions. Find out more about the Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds at, or contact Executive Director Roger Murry at


“They Made It a Priority to Fight for Us.� by JIMMY PANETTA

Veterans Day provides an opportunity to recognize and honor all men and women who have answered the call of duty through military service to the United States of America. It also is a day on which our communities not only must express our appreciation, but also strengthen our spirit for those who served and are serving our country. The central coast of California is home to numerous veterans and servicemembers. My community embodies and for all. That is why on Veterans Day we are inspired with a renewed commitment to those shared values and reminded needed to uphold not just those principles, but also our democracy. Imbued with that sense of service, I was mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2007. I was assigned to a special operations task force and responsible for gathering information on high value targets. Upon returning home, I served as a board member of the Veterans Transition Center where I worked on addressing veteran homelessness and improving resources for veterans and their families. As a local prosecutor, I pressed local leaders in the criminal justice system to establish our community’s

service to our veterans and our country. I uniquely recognize the service and

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Jimmy Panetta in the Kunar

Veterans Day provides an opportunity to recognize and honor all men and women who have answered the call of duty through military service.

Court to ensure that veterans receive the empathy they deserve and services they earned. Moreover, I joined forces with local leaders and veterans to establish the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery on the former Fort Ord. In 2015, I was honored to be named Monterey County Veteran of the Year. Veterans Day reinforce my everlasting commitment in Congress to serve those who served us. veterans. At one time, veterans made up more than 70% of 18

Congress. Today, veteran representation in Congress is near a historic low of 18%. However, this trendline may be changing as recent elections sent a surge of veterans to Congress. Seeking to solidify the bond amongst veteran Members of Congress, I co-founded the bipartisan For Country Caucus. That caucus provides principled veteran members a bipartisan platform to create a more productive government. Through the caucus, 20 veteran members advance national priorities with integrity, civility, and mutual respect. From health care to housing, justice to equality, and resourcing to respect, we work together to deliver on those issues for our veterans. As policy makers, we look to Veterans Day to recommit ourselves, regardless of background, experience, or

servicemembers and their families, both during and after their time in uniform. As members of the Armed Forces, they for us. As a veteran and a Member of Congress, I have made it a priority to

Veterans Day allows each of us and our communities to formally express our gratitude for those who served, let it also reinvigorate all of us in our obligation to serve our veterans every day. RF Jimmy Panetta represents the 20th District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was Navy Reserve in 2003. In 2007, he volunteered for active duty with a Special Operations task force deployed to Afghanistan. He was later awarded a Bronze Star for his courageous service in a combat zone.

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“Every American, Republican or Democrat, has a Sacred Responsibility to Our Veterans.” by MIKIE SHERRILL

As one of just four women veterans in the House of Representatives, I take special pride in my work with the veteran community. Since the 5th grade, I knew I wanted to join the Navy. After I graduated from the Naval Academy, I served as a helicopter pilot for almost 10 years. In Congress, I helped found and serve as Vice Chair of the Service Women and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus and am a member of the For Country Caucus, which is a bipartisan group of veterans that works together not only on veterans issues, but across the spectrum of national security issues. I served with wonderful men and women in the Navy who made

our veterans have access to the health care they need during this crisis, whether that is COVID testing, treatment for mental health services, or oversight of the VA’s long-term care system. We must make sure all veterans are getting the help they need during this In Washington, I have pushed hard for increased funding for VA telehealth capability, worked closely with my colleagues to ensure additional medical resources for long-term care facilities, and fought to hold leadership accountable for failures in the VA long-term care system. Earlier in this Congress,

safe. Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor them and all of those who served our country. To me, this

the veteran suicide crisis. Looking forward, we must do better to ensure that our nation’s bravest have the resources they need to secure a healthy and positive life. We need to do more to help homeless

country are doing to respect and honor the commitment we have made to our nation’s heroes. As a Member of Congress and veteran myself, I feel a special responsibility to constantly reassess whether we are meeting the promises we have made to our veterans. We must regularly examine the services and resources we provide

connect to job opportunities. Homelessness among women veterans with children is often particularly challenging due to Future Congresswoman Mikie the lack of facilities that offer Sherrill. accommodations for families. For too long, women – to ensure we are meeting our veterans and service members We must make sure all obligation as a nation to the people have been overlooked. For veterans are getting the who put their lives on the line to example, our Servicewomen’s help they need during protect us. We must also make sure Caucus pushed TRICARE to our foreign policy decisions take cover digital mammograms, this difficult time. into consideration the women and which are the standard of care, men who put on the uniform. but were mostly unavailable This work has taken on an prior to 2019. But many critical even greater importance amidst the global pandemic and proposals I support have passed the House but have associated recession. So many veterans suffer from mental yet to become law. We need to do more to help service health challenges stemming from their experiences in women who have experienced military sexual trauma, combat. And wait times for appointments at VA medical facilities continue to prevent veterans from accessing VA, enhance privacy for women veterans within VA treatment and testing when they need it. facilities, and improve the quality of care for infant I have been especially concerned with making sure children of women veterans. 20

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In Congress, honoring veterans takes on a broader never received theirs, I am incredibly proud of our meaning. I know firsthand the real consequences of work to help veterans -- it is certainly some of the military action and the need for strong alliances. These most important we do. alliances reflect our shared values of democracy, I am proud to be a veteran, and I am proud to be a human rights, and mutual defense, and they are a voice for veterans in the U.S. House of Representatives. result of and vital to U.S. global leadership. As a Veterans Day is a reminder that keeping our promises Member of Congress, I will to our nation’s heroes is an continue to advocate for issue all Americans can get the relationships that kept behind. Every American, me safe when I served. The Republican or Democrat, As a Member of Congress, I thousands of Americans who has a sacred responsibility will continue to advocate for gave their lives in defense to our veterans, and I, for the relationships that kept of our nation deserve that one, will use this Veterans promise from all of our Day to examine where we me safe when I served. leaders. can do better. RF Finally, serving our veterans is about showing Mikie Sherrill has represented up, like they showed up for us. During my first term New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District since 2019. After here in Congress and especially during this pandemic, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, she went on to serve I have worked hard to make sure I am present in the almost 10 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. As a Sea King veteran community and to give my staff the support they need to conduct robust outreach and constituent Middle East. She also worked on the Battle Watch Floor in the services assistance. Whether tracking down VA European Theater during the Iraq invasion, and served as a compensation or presenting medals to a soldier who Flag Aide to the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

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Politics & Perspective

From Armistice Day to Veterans Day: All Heroes of Our Nation by DEIRDRE O’ROURKE At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh

tion of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the UnitGermany and the Allied nations went into effect. Despite ed States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we sailles was signed in France on June 28th, 1919, November ring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with 11th stands in history as the moment peace began after close thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate to 10 million soldiers gave their lives and 21 million soldiers peace through good will and mutual understanding between were wounded worldwide. nations.” In November of In the years that folthat same year President lowed several states leWoodrow Wilson declared galized Armistice Day, prompting the 75th Conannual commemoration gress to declare the celof Armistice Day, sharing ebration a federal holiday this sentiment: in 1938. As our nation en“To us in America, tered what became known as the “War to End All Wars,” the focus of festiviwith solemn pride in the ties began to shift. heroism of those who died Armistice Day was in the country’s service established as a day to and with gratitude for the commemorate those who victory, both because of served in World War I, but the thing from which it following the conclusion has freed us and because of World War II – which of the opportunity it gives required the largest moAmerica to show her symbilization of US Army, pathy with peace and jusNavy, Marine and Airmen Armistice Day was established as tice in the councils of the in the nation’s history – a day to commemorate those who nations.” and American forces’ inPresident Wilson inserved in World War I, but following volvement in the Korean tended to acknowledge War, the 83rd Congress the conclusion of World War II the the moment of the cease amended the 1938 Act by 83rd Congress amended the 1938 Act inserting the comprehension of all businesses for a sive term “Veterans” in by inserting the comprehensive term two-minute period beginplace of “Armistice.” “Veterans” in place of “Armistice.” ning at 11 A.M. on November 11th followed by tial Veterans Day Proclanationwide parades and mation on October 8th, celebrations. 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called on all American Congress adopted a resolution seven years later requiring the President to issue a proclamation for a national observance of Armistice Day on its anniversary, with President Calvin who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign Coolidge decreeing that, shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconse“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessa- crate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so RIPON FORUM November 2020


that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” While President Eisenhower and the 83rd Congress are credited with signing Veterans Day into law, the push began years earlier. Raymond Weeks, a World War II Veteran from Birmingham, Alabama wrote to then-General Eisenhower in 1945 in hopes of formally expanding the celebration to all war veterans. Soon after the cessation of the Korean War in 1953, a shoe store owner named Alvin King from Emporia, Kansas began another campaign to transition Armistice Day to “All” Veterans Day. Kansas Representative Edward Rees took up both Weeks’ and King’s torches in 1954 by writing and submitting to Congress a

organizes the Veterans Day celebration initially begun by Raymond Weeks nearly seventy years ago. Schools everywhere assemble for veterans to speak and share their experiences, students participate in commemorative classroom activities, and a sense of patriotism and respect is instilled in the children of the nation.

parties, memorials, concerts, and countless other events sanctify Veterans Day and remind us of the reason we can live in freedom instead of in fear. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many communities to cancel their annual proceedings due to the risk change. of spreading the virus, esTo ensure the recogpecially to the more vulnition of the rededicated nerable elderly or injured Veterans Day, Eisenhowveteran populations and er formed the Veterans their families that reguDay National Committee larly attend. City and town to oversee observances of councils across the counthe holiday. try, however, have recogEvery year at 11 nized that Veterans Day A.M. on November 11th, this year provides a unique a color guard made up opportunity to engage and of members from each uplift their communities branch of the military by honoring their veterans, honors Americans who especially given the adverdied in service at the Arsities this year has brought. lington National CemThe United War Veteretery Tomb of the Unans Council has developed November 11th stands in knowns in the Veterans a series of socially distant Day National Ceremony. live events and an expandhistory as the moment peace began Throughout the ed list of virtual events in after close to 10 million soldiers gave United States, the Vetplace of New York’s usual their lives and 21 million soldiers erans Day National festivities. Phoenix, PhilaCommittee has recogdelphia, and other cities were wounded worldwide. nized select sites that are airing virtual parades. Many veteran organizato American heroes for tions, memorial funds and other communities across the country to reference in planning commemorative historical sites are hosting virtual memorial their own celebrations. But regardless of the size and scope ceremonies. New York, Texas, Florida, and Kansas among of remembrances, individuals and families come together to others are holding in-person parades but with enforced masks acknowledge their fallen ancestors, former and current service and social distancing protocols. members, and all of those who preserve and protect our freeAmericans have come together to determine the safest doms. way to celebrate this year, but President John F. Kennedy unVeterans Day remains our chance to thank every individ- derscored the rightful purpose of Veterans Day by reminding us that, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget of businesses and parades in nearly every state bring together that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live hundreds of thousands of Americans to pay their respect. Cit- by them.” While November 11th is dedicated to our Veterans, ies and towns have established annual traditions to dedicate as Americans, we must remember to spend our days honoring just one day to soldiers who have given their whole lives. Branson, Missouri bolsters a week-long celebration an- not have been in vain. RF nually with a Military Film Festival, Veterans reunions, sporting events, a Veteran Spouses Luncheon and other activities Deirdre O’Rourke serves as a Frenzel Fellow with The Ripon dedicated to our servicemembers. Birmingham, Alabama still Society. 24

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