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VE SP TE ECI RA AL NS EDI DA TION Y2 : 01 9 November 2019 Volume 53, No. 5

WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME With essays by veterans Robert Wilkie, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Jim Inhofe, Todd Young, Don Bacon, Jim Baird, Jack Bergman, Dan Crenshaw, Adam Kinzinger, Brian Mast, Greg Pence, Phil Roe, Guy Reschenthaler, Steve Stivers , Brad Wenstrup, and Steve Womack

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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 53, Number 5

Special Edition

WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME 4.

Let History Guide Us on Veterans Day By U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie

6.

Service, Sacrifice, and a Sacred Duty By U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (AR)

8.

“I’ll Never Forget My Time in Military Service.” By U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (IA)

10.

More Than a Day of Remembrance, Veterans Day is a Call to Action By U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (OK)

12.

“It Takes a Special Person to Take Up Arms in Defense of Our Country.” By U.S. Senator Todd Young (IN)

14.

“We Will Always Need Defenders, and We Will Always Protect Them.” By U.S. Representative Don Bacon (NE-2)

16.

“Their Willingness to Protect this Country Shall Never be Forgotten.” By U.S. Representative Jim Baird (IN-4)

18.

“Service is Always Greater than Self.” By U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (MI-1)

20.

“Never Forget” By U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw (TX-2)

Publisher The Ripon Society

22.

“We Must Ensure Our Veterans Know that They are Not Alone.” By U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (IL-16)

24.

“Every Service Member is United in Their Choice to Put Service Before Self.” By U.S. Representative Brian Mast (FL-18)

26.

“We Will Remain Always Faithful.” By U.S. Representative Greg Pence (IN-6)

28.

“Be Grateful for the Many Sacrifices that Keep Us Free.” By U.S. Representative Phil Roe (TN-1)

30.

“It is Essential that We Take Care of Those Who Took Care of Us.” By U.S. Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14)

33.

“To All of Our Nation’s Veterans, We Thank You.” By U.S. Representative Steve Stivers (OH-15)

37.

“Let Us Never Forget Those Who Willingly Step Forward to Shoulder the Duty.” By U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (OH-2)

39.

“America Has Been a Shining Example of Freedom Because of Those Who Serve Her in Uniform.” By U.S. Representative Steve Womack (AR-3)

© Copyright 2019 By The Ripon Society All Rights Reserved

Editor Lou Zickar

President Jim Conzelman

Deputy Editor Kyle Chance

Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Judy Van Rest Jim Murtha John Feehery

Editorial Assistant William Clutterbuck Advertising Coordinator Asher Kaithern Editorial Intern Sarah Pearce

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.

RIPON FORUM November 2019

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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 Greg Walden - 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 Andy Barr Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole Doug Collins Paul Cook Rodney Davis 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 John Ratcliffe Tom Reed Tom Rice Steve Scalise John Shimkus Pete Stauber Steve Stivers Glenn “GT” Thompson Mac Thornberry Mike Turner Fred Upton Jackie Walorski Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack

In this Edition

Sixty-five years ago this past summer, Congress passed legislation to change the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Up until that time, the day – which was formally marked at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month -- commemorated the end of World War I and the American soldiers who had fought and died in that great conflict.  By 1954, Americans had fought and died in two other conflicts.  The name change reflected the fact that the country had an obligation – had a duty – to honor these brave individuals, as well.  At the time of the bill’s passage, over half of the House and Senate had served America in uniform.  This number would increase over the next two decades, reaching its peak between 1965 and 1975, when at least 70% of lawmakers serving on Capitol Hill had military experience. The number of veterans serving in Congress has decreased steadily in the years since.  “Today,” Pew Research Center reported this past February, “19% of Senators and 18% of Representatives have served in the military.”  According to the Military Times, although there are six fewer veterans serving in the current 116th Congress, there are more female veterans (7) serving than ever before, and this year’s freshman class included the most veterans in a decade (19).   The Times also reported a number of other key facts about the veterans who now serve in Congress. In total, there are 96 veterans in the 116th Congress.  Thirty of these veterans are Democrats, while 66 are Republicans.  Nineteen serve in the Senate, 77 serve in the House.  Forty eight served in the military after 2000, while 21 served in the military in the 1960s or earlier.  Nineteen of the veterans are first-time lawmakers.  Fifty served in the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard. Seventeen served in the Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve.  Seventeen served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard.  Thirteen served in the Navy or Naval Reserve.  And one lawmaker served in the Coast Guard. With the eleventh day of the eleventh month once again approaching, The Ripon Forum decided to reach out to a number of these lawmakers and ask 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 asked them to discuss any specific legislative initiatives they are working on that will not only be of assistance to America’s veterans, but be a fitting tribute to their service to America, as well.  We contacted the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs – who serves as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve and is the son and grandson of veterans – and asked him this same question as well.  We are honored to feature in this special edition of the Forum his response to this question in the form of an essay, along with the essays of 16 veteran lawmakers, too.  As someone who grew up in the 1970s – a time when military service was often frowned upon and those returning from Vietnam were too often looked upon with scorn – it is gratifying to know that we have turned a corner in the United States and are now at a point where those who wear the uniform of our country are honored, and those who return from deployment abroad are cheered.   It is only fitting that we express our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. This edition of the Forum is meant to do just that -- to be a small tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our freedom, and a way of saying “thank you” to the heroes we honor each and every Veterans Day. Lou Zickar, Editor louzickar@riponsociety.org RIPON FORUM November 2019

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

Let History Guide Us on Veterans Day by ROBERT WILKIE

President Lincoln captured the essence of Veterans 240 pounds, and already a veteran of fourteen months Day decades before America invented it. of ground combat. On February 1, 1970, he was gravely During the Civil War, in summertime, Lincoln lived wounded in the invasion of Cambodia, and after a year in a small cottage a few miles north of the White House. of recuperating away from home, he returned to us at From there, he commuted back and forth to his strenuous 120 pounds. job of trying to keep the nation That experience is why I from splintering in two. was so honored to be asked to That commute put him in lead the Department of Veterans daily contact with Union soldiers Affairs, to follow in the traditions who were being taken to hospitals of Lincoln and ensuring that in the north of the city. A report America takes care of the men from those days saw Lincoln and women who carry our liberty riding alongside the wounded on their shoulders. There is much “for a considerable distance, we can do, and much we are conversing freely with the men.” doing. Lincoln knew as well as We successfully implemented anyone who ever lived that those the MISSION Act, which gives who wear the uniform are among Veterans permanent health care the most important ways we have choices outside VA. But we’ve of protecting and defending those worked hard to improve VA, too. sacred ideas written into our We’re seeing more patients founding documents. In 1864, than ever before, and VA care he made that clear in a speech to now compares favorably to the the 189th New York Volunteers, private sector on both wait times in which he thanked them for and quality of care, and in many supporting his government: cases is superior. It was my father’s two “To you who render the Veterans have noticed. In hardest work in its support should a recent Veterans of Foreign combat tours in Vietnam be given the greatest credit.” Wars survey, almost three that left the indelible mark quarters of respondents reported More than 150 years later, we continue to celebrate those improvements at their local VA, on my career. who love the country so much and more than 90 percent said they would risk all to defend it. they would recommend VA to Many of our families tell the story of service to this others. Trust in VA has jumped to 87.7 percent, and great country. we’re pushing to do even better. My great-grandfather left a small-town law practice We’re also working diligently within the Trump to join the Army in World War I, while my wife’s administration and with partners around the nation to grandfather found himself marching up the Champs- prevent Veteran suicide. This is my top clinical priority, Elysees in Paris into the Meuse-Argonne offensive at because every Veteran should have a chance to survive the age of 18. and thrive as civilians in the country they fought to My military record is modest compared to my defend. ancestors. But it was my father’s two combat tours in We will get there not just through the efforts Vietnam that left the indelible mark on my career. In of VA, but with the help of families and friends and 1969, he left us in full health, 6 feet 2 inches tall and communities across this country. 4

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On November 11, when I speak at Arlington National they live to show their fellow citizens that the price of Cemetery, I’ll be thinking about the Veterans we serve freedom is never free. today, and how they so nobly served us. They are part of That is the lesson today’s Veterans continue to the legacy of the 41 million Americans who have worn teach us. our military uniforms to keep us safe and free. And in return, we will recall a second great In addition to Lincoln, figure from history, Gen. I’ll be thinking of two Matthew Ridgway, who other great men from on the night before the The price of freedom is never free. history. One is President liberation of Europe Eisenhower, who was during World War II That is the lesson today’s Veterans embarrassed to have couldn’t sleep, and instead continue to teach us. inherited a yacht when he listened for the promise assumed the Oval Office. that God made to Joshua: He wanted to scrap it until “I will not fail thee, his wife, Mamie, said he nor forsake thee.” should keep it and only invite soldiers on board. On Veterans Day, we recognize those men and When he went down to the Washington Navy Yard women whom we cannot fail nor forsake. RF pier to see a group of Veterans who were assembled on its deck, many of them were missing limbs or had been Robert L. Wilkie (@SecWilkie) is Secretary of the terribly disfigured in Korea. He gave them one final Department of Veterans Affairs and a Colonel in the order. Eisenhower told them never to put their uniforms United States Air Force Reserve. He previously served away, and that they would always be on duty, and that as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel Readiness.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

Service, Sacrifice, and a Sacred Duty by TOM COTTON

Veterans Day is our national holiday to honor the sacrifice for a memorial to an unknown soldier who would represent all of our veterans and to celebrate their bravery and skill. Though the unknown fallen. On Armistice Day 1920, as it was then my grandfather served in World War II and my father served known, France and Great Britain buried an unknown soldier in the Vietnam War, the holiday wasn’t intensely personal at the Arc de Triomphe and Westminster Abbey in elaborate in our family. Both men were too reserved and humble for funerals before vast crowds. The pageantry and emotion of that. We honored and celebrated all the day galvanized American those who served in our family and public opinion. General John community. Pershing, who had led the AEF, These days, I usually continue testified to Congress in favor of that tradition on Veterans Day a memorial. Congress quickly at services to honor Arkansas’s passed legislation to honor veterans. But when I’m in the an unknown at Arlington and nation’s capital — as I was during President Woodrow Wilson my tour at Arlington National signed it on his final day in Cemetery with The Old Guard — I office. try to visit the Tomb of the Unknown The funeral would occur Soldier. As I write in Sacred Duty, on Armistice Day 1921, giving the Tomb originally honored an the Army eight months to select unknown soldier from World War the remains of an unknown I, but has since become our national soldier. They went to great place of remembrance and honor. lengths to ensure anonymity, The story of the Tomb begins exhuming four unknowns from on the battlefields of Europe as the four cemeteries, destroying guns fell silent on the eleventh hour all related records, and even of the eleventh day of the eleventh rearranging the caskets in secret month of 1918. The American shortly before the selection. When I’m in the Expeditionary Forces had proved Sergeant Edward Younger, who nation’s capital — as I was decisive in World War I. But despite had served in the AEF’s biggest during my tour at Arlington its late entry, the AEF still lost campaigns, selected America’s more than 116,000 troops. Thus, Unknown Soldier on October National Cemetery with for the first time the nation faced 24. The Unknown then crossed The Old Guard — I try to the question of how to handle large France to great fanfare before numbers of remains in an overseas departing for home the next visit the Tomb of the war. day aboard the U.S.S. Olympia, Unknown Soldier. Senior Army leaders generally Admiral George Dewey’s preferred not to disturb the dead, flagship in the Battle of Manila but war mothers and war widows Bay. prevailed in Congress. Most Gold Star Families repatriated Meanwhile, the Military District of Washington prepared their loved ones, though nearly 31,000 Americans remained in a welcome befitting a General of the Armies for the Unknown’s Europe in eight newly established cemeteries, where they still arrival on November 9. A large ceremonial procession rest today under the care of the American Battle Monuments escorted him from the Washington Navy Yard to the Capitol Commission. Rotunda, where he laid in state on the Lincoln Catafalque and But the question occurred of what to do with received visits from President and Mrs. Warren Harding and approximately 2,000 unidentified remains. Some advocated senior officials from all three branches of governments. When 6

RIPON FORUM November 2019


the Capitol’s east doors opened the next morning, thousands Soldiers from World War II and the Korean War (and of soldiers, veterans, and fellow citizens were gathered to pay temporarily from a Vietnam Unknown, whose identity was their final respects — including Gold Star Families of missing later uncovered after exhumation). But as the years passed, or unidentified soldiers, perhaps wondering if it was their son the Tomb became not only a place to remember these three or husband or dad resting in that casket. By midnight, nearly Unknowns and the fallen unknown comrades from the wars in 100,000 persons passed through the Rotunda to honor the which they all served, but also a place to honor all those who Unknown. have served in our nation’s wars, On the morning of Armistice from Lexington and Concord to Iraq Day, the Unknown was honored and Afghanistan. The Tomb is a special with a funeral procession from the The Tomb is a special place place on Veterans Day, but on Veterans Capitol to Arlington. Alongside the Day, but also a place also a place where every military escort, President Harding where every day is Veterans Day. and General Pershing led hundreds Our nation has committed to guard day is Veterans Day. of dignitaries, including Supreme the Tomb continuously for 82 years Court justices, cabinet officials, and counting as a way to show our governors, legislators, Medal of respect and appreciation for all those Honor recipients, and other soldiers and veterans. Inside the who served. The Tomb Sentinels who stand guard embody the Amphitheater, President Harding honored the Unknown with spirit of Veterans Day, as do the millions of Americans who the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross. The make the pilgrimage to the Tomb each year. RF Unknown was then lowered into the Tomb, a bugler sounded Taps, and the artillery fired a final 21-gun salute. The Unknown Tom Cotton is a United States Senator for Arkansas. This now rested in his eternal home, the high ground of Arlington. essay is adapted from his best-selling book Sacred Duty: A Sadly, this Unknown was later joined by Unknown Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery.

Captain Tom Cotton in November 2007 at Arlington Cemetery, where he served as a member of the Old Guard, who conducts funerals at Arlington Cemetery and guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“I’ll Never Forget My Time in Military Service.” by JONI ERNST

Having worn our great country’s colors in combat, McDole, that truly inspire me to keep fighting for our veterans and the unique issues they face hold a special place veterans day-in and day-out. in my heart. Some of my favorite moments in Iowa are And as someone who commanded men and women centered on honoring our veterans and their families with the overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom and then served medals and recognition they have earned. as a battalion commander of the largest battalion in the Oftentimes, these humble heroes Iowa Army National Guard, don’t want to step forward and receive I have a deep connection and the honor they’re due. Glenn McDole appreciation for our veterans. is a great example of this. Glenn I’ll never forget my time in served in World War II and faced military service. It’s marked me some dark days — being among only in so many ways, and has shaped 11 of 150 who survived the Palawan my perspectives and driven me Massacre. Glenn was captured in to fight to ensure our veterans 1941 and came home in 1945, and it get access to timely and quality wasn’t until the early 1980s that he health care and that they’re able started speaking about his military to get the support they need experience. When he returned home when it comes to mental health. from war, he didn’t skip a beat in In just the past few years, his service. He quickly joined the we’ve been able to expand Iowa State Patrol and then the Polk access to services through County Sherriff’s Office. He led a life legislation like the VA MISSION of service, yet his heroic actions in Act — a bipartisan bill that I uniform would go unnoticed for so proudly helped get signed into many years. law and that included a number Thankfully, his family got in of my priorities, like allowing touch with my office and we were our rural or homebound able to track down the more than 13 veterans to receive necessary As someone who commedals he should have received for care from the comfort of their manded men and women his service. And earlier this year in homes. And my HAVEN Act, overseas and then served my office in Des Moines, I had the which President Trump just honor of presenting the medals to his signed into law this summer that as a battalion commander daughters. protects the economic security of the largest battalion in The medals presented to Glenn’s and well-being of veterans family — and the number of other and their families who rely on the Iowa Army National veterans and families across Iowa disability benefits and may be Guard, I have a deep conwho have received these awards — experiencing financial hardship. nection and appreciation represent duty, honor, and sacrifice. We’ve also pressed the And most importantly, they’re Department of Veterans Affairs for our veterans. presented with deep appreciation (VA) to take a hard look at their from a grateful nation. I’m thankful hiring practices and make sure and humbled by the opportunity to publicly recognize the people treating and providing care to our veterans these men and women who have served us so faithfully and have a record of quality care. The VA should absolutely selflessly. be held accountable for how they help care for our It’s the heroic stories of these veterans, like Glenn veterans, and I’m continuing to press them on that issue. 8

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Another area that sometimes gets overlooked is how should also pause, as we do every year on Veterans Day, we can help our veterans reenter the workforce and be to simply honor their service and the sacrifices they’ve successful post-service. In Iowa, we have over 50 small made for our country and our freedom. businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, but Each year, Veterans Day serves as a stark reminder right now they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to of the daily sacrifice made by those who have served contracting opportunities. this country bravely and A bipartisan bill I’m selflessly. Veterans — working on with my fellow in Iowa and across our Some of my favorite moments in female veteran and Senate nation — you have my Iowa are centered on honoring colleague, Senator Tammy support and my deepest our veterans and their families Duckworth (D-IL), would gratitude today, and every make sure that these small day. May God bless my with the medals and recognition businesses have the same fellow veterans and their they have earned. opportunities as other families. RF employers, and give our small business owners a Joni Ernst represents the fair shot. state of Iowa as the first female combat veteran elected to Whether it’s health care access and treatment or serve in the U.S. Senate. In 2003, Joni served as a company cutting red tape for our small business owners, I’m commander in Kuwait and Iraq, leading 150 Iowa Army continuing to fight for our veterans. And as we take a National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Joni moment to reflect on the work we’ve done and continue retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National to do in Congress on behalf of these men and women, we Guard after 23 years of military service.

Sen. Ernst greets a veteran at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshall County, Iowa this past spring.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

More Than a Day of Remembrance, Veterans Day is a Call to Action by JIM INHOFE President Trump has made other important reforms, too. Each year on November 11, we mark Veterans Day – a He’s worked to improve veterans’health care by putting the needs day to honor and show respect for our nation’s veterans and of veterans first. He also demanded a culture of accountability their contributions. I was a product of the draft and entered at the VA – creating a 24 hour, seven day a week hotline where military service in 1956. I can say without a doubt that my time veterans and family members can speak to an advocate to in the service shaped my life for the better. Yet, I am humbled help them navigate federal programs and seek assistance. daily by the sacrifice that countless men, women and families Additionally, he’s made supporting veteran mental health a endure on behalf of a grateful nation. priority – securing over $8 Since my time in billion for VA mental health the Army, I’ve also seen services. a lot of changes in our We also looked beyond Armed Forces and in how health care. Last Congress, America treats its veterans. we enacted the Forever G.I. While we’ve come a long Bill to modernize veteran way since the Vietnameducational benefits. It era in the respect and enabled veterans to use appreciation we show to their benefits whenever our veterans, too often we they choose and included see Veterans Day as only a provision I authored a day of remembrance, to expand G.I. benefits instead of what it should to career and technical also be: a call to action to schools. The result: veteran keep our commitments Sen. Inhofe at the World War II memorial with an unemployment rate is the to the men and women Honor Flight from Oklahoma in April 2018. lowest recorded level. Ever. who volunteer to wear the We’re still not done. uniform. I’m currently working Our veterans deserve I am humbled daily by the sacrifice on several initiatives that and have earned high that countless men, women and will support veterans quality health care, fighting opioid addiction competitive educational families endure on behalf of a and modernize workforce benefits and post-service grateful nation. development opportunities employment opportunities, for the families of service but they haven’t always members. As long as men and women continue to wear the received it.  uniform, we’re going to keep the faith with them by making On December 22, 2015, Oklahomans woke up to a front sure they get the benefits they have earned. But it doesn’t stop page story in USA Today detailing the appalling standards of with Congress.  care at Oklahoma’s Veterans Affairs facilities. It made it clear There are many opportunities for a grateful nation to show that our VAs were not being held to the highest standards, their commitment to our service members as well. Visiting meaning too many veterans weren’t getting the care they memorials, participating in an Honor Flight or volunteering deserved. with a respected veterans service organization are good places to We went to work – and as of today, we’ve made start. And never forget the power of a simple, heartfelt: “Thank key reforms to empower VA leaders to fire bad actors for you.” RF misconduct or poor performance, reauthorize Veterans Choice program so veterans can receive timely, high-quality care and establish accountability and oversight by allowing outside Jim Inhofe represents the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate, entities to investigate VAs to ensure they are held to the same where he serves as Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee. Sen. Inhofe previously served in the U.S. Army. standards as private hospitals. 10

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“It Takes a Special Person to Take Up Arms in Defense of Our Country.” by TODD YOUNG

In August, I traveled to a tiny diner in Auburn, It takes a special person to take up arms in defense Indiana, to present a medal that was nearly 75 years in of our country. It requires a true belief that there is a the making. Over the last few months, I’ve thought a lot cause greater than oneself, and a desire to put it all on about that moment at Sandra D’s Café and what it meant the line for strangers they will never meet for the good to me. On this Veterans Day, of the nation. I’d like to share those lessons. That very belief makes Veterans Day is our me think back to that café in national opportunity to thank Auburn. Sandra D’s father, the men and women who have Robert Egli, was a World War fought to defend our great II veteran who survived the war nation. Veterans and their and lived a long and happy life families have made tremendous back home in Indiana. Through sacrifices, and they deserve our a series of fortuitous events, I gratitude and respect. was able to help Sandra recover I had the opportunity to Robert’s missing Bronze Star. serve 10 years in the military During a battle in the – including an appointment to Second World War, Robert’s the U.S. Naval Academy and unit saved the lives of 511 a commission in the Marine American prisoners of war in Corps. I saw firsthand the the Pacific Theater. His actions sacrifices our men and women allowed them to return home, in uniform make, and learned marry their sweethearts, start a just how much courage and family, and live the American sacrifice is required of our dream. Now, those hundreds of Captain Todd Young troops. Americans have children and That’s why I continue grandchildren who are alive As a Marine, I swore to wear a memorial bracelet today as a result of his beautiful around my wrist as a constant act of courage, patriotism, and to always remain faithful reminder of the ultimate sacrifice. to those serving by sacrifice countless Americans For these reasons and more, my side. have made for you, me, and our we must never stop working to cherished freedoms. ensure our veterans receive the The bracelet I wear honors respect that they deserve. As Lance Corporal Alec Terwiske. Alec was a fellow Marine a Marine, I swore to always remain faithful to those from the small town of Dubois, Indiana. On September serving by my side. That includes ensuring our veterans 3, 2012, the community was rocked when Alec was receive the care they are due after they return home. tragically killed in Afghanistan. His mom Sandy asked The United States Senate and this Administration me to wear this bracelet to honor his memory, and I do are doing more for veterans than any period in recent so proudly every day. memory. The bracelet helps me keep the right perspective on Last year, the VA MISSION Act, which I was proud the things that matter most. This includes making sure to cosponsor, became law and dramatically improved the we honor our commitment to the men and women who way our veterans receive care. Many Hoosier veterans have served. want to be able to use their own local doctors instead of 12

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traveling to a VA clinic, and now they can. 100,000 paralyzed, and 130,000 blind veterans currently We also sped up the appeals process through the subjected to a rigorous and demeaning screening process VA Appeals Modernization Act to ensure veterans get when traveling. a quick response to claims and appeals. Under the old We have made significant strides for our veterans legacy system, appeals took an average of three to in recent years, but we must always keep striving to do seven years. Now with more. the help of new computer George Washington systems, more employees, said, “The willingness We have made significant strides for and a streamlined process, with which our young our veterans in recent years, but we appeals are supposed to people are likely to serve be ruled on within a year. in any war, no matter must always keep striving I have also taken how justified, shall be to do more. steps to improve the ways directly proportional as our veterans are cared for to how they perceive the in nursing homes, and to veterans of earlier wars provide urgently needed support for veterans who may were treated and appreciated by their nation.� be contemplating suicide. This Veterans Day, and every day, I encourage you The Senate recently passed unanimously the VETS to remember our veterans. RF Safe Travel Act, a bill I introduced to provide severely disabled veterans with free TSA PreCheck in airports. Todd Young is the senior U.S. Senator for Indiana. He The bill has the potential to help 70,000 amputee, served previously in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“We Will Always Need Defenders, and We Will Always Protect Them.” by DON BACON

Thirty-four years have passed since I joined the ideology that transcended geography. In response, the United States Air Force. As Veterans Day approaches, I United States began its longest military campaign cannot help but reflect on the many changes I saw over to date in an effort to break the Taliban control of 30 years wearing the uniform. But, one thing that has Afghanistan and destroy the masterminds and financiers never changed is the need for America’s best to defend of the terrorist attacks. our freedoms! While counter-terrorism Resources and defense operations continue today, we capabilities have transformed are witnessing a shift in the drastically since the 1980s. global power paradigm – a rise There were no desktop in competition from China, computers, cell phones, or a revanchist Russia and the digital satellites monitoring re-emergence of profound our enemies’ every move. disorder in key regions like the We detected threats utilizing Middle East. New challenges risky aerial surveillance will arise, and adversaries will missions, bulky radios, and oldundermine our strengths and fashioned radar installations. target our vulnerabilities. Thus, The geopolitical environment the need for Americans to serve at that time was much simpler. and defend our country will There were two superpowers always exist. We must support - the United States and the our military alliances and Soviet Union, each supported foster global security, stability by their respective allies. The and economic prosperity. rising tensions between us and I am a firm believer that we Brigadier General Don Bacon in 2013. the Soviet Union fueled what must honor the commitments was known as the Cold War and we’ve made to our veterans – Everyday Americans will it was believed that the Soviet those who place themselves Union would remain our most continue to serve and protect in harm’s way to defend our enduring enemy. values and way of life. We will our nation in extraordinary However, with the fall of the always need them. To do this, I ways, as they have for Berlin Wall in 1989 and collapse co-founded and currently serve of the Soviet Union shortly as co-chair of the For Country generations. thereafter, we thought there Caucus. Each member of the would be a new world order and Caucus actively serves in, or is hoped for extended peace. But, our high hopes of peace a veteran of, the United States military. were quickly dashed. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait Comprised of Republican and Democrat members, and the United States’ forces quickly defeated the fifth we have pledged to serve in Congress with the core values largest army in the world. Then, we saw genocide and vital to our respective services – integrity, civility, and ugly atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda, yet destruction the courage to utilize our military camaraderie to break wasn’t limited to other countries. through the current political dysfunction and place the The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 changed needs of our country over party. America forever. No longer a nation-state, the enemy During my time in office, I have co-sponsored became more elusive, tied not to a country, but to an several pieces of legislation that support veterans and 14

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their families, including H.R. 299, the Blue Water medical transportation to a federal facility thereby Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which President relieving veterans of the financial burden for Trump signed into law on June 25, 2019. This bill will transportation to receive the medical treatment they extend disability benefits covering medical conditions need. associated with Agent Orange exposure, particularly To be prepared for the future, we must remember to those stationed on ships off the coast of Vietnam, or our history, learn from our mistakes, and think those who served on Vietnam’s strategically — 30 years into land between the years 1962 the future — to innovate and 1975. and train for the threats that We will always have their I also believe it is lie ahead. Our capability to back after their service ends. important to be an advocate engage and defeat enemies for the 2 million female has greatly improved over This is what Veterans Day veterans living in the United the last 30 years, and means to me. States and provide the proper everyday Americans will medical care to all veterans, continue to serve and protect regardless of gender. That is our nation in extraordinary why I co-sponsored H.R. 4096, the Improving Oversight ways, as they have for generations. We will always of Women Veterans’ Care Act of 2019, which would have their back after their service ends. This is what require the Department of Veterans Affairs to submit an Veterans Day means to me. annual report to Congress regarding women veterans’ God bless America and those who serve. RF accessibility to gender-specific health care under B:7.625” community care contracts. T:7.375” Don Bacon represents the 2nd District of Nebraska S:6.875” in the U.S. House of Representatives. He previously Furthermore, I co-sponsored H.R. 3350, the VA Emergency Transportation Act which would authorize spent nearly 30 Years serving in the U.S. Air Force, a reimbursement to veterans for the cost of emergency retiring in 2014 as a Brigadier General.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“Their Willingness to Protect this Country Shall Never be Forgotten.” by JIM BAIRD It is indeed a pleasure to share my views about Veterans Citizenship Award in 1982, as the driving force behind this Day with The Ripon Forum. This national holiday is for national day. It seems appropriate to recognize the founder of the honoring all those who have served their country in uniform. day for his compassion for his fellow comrades. It is important It means a great deal to the men and women who have worn or to remember that there is no apostrophe in the written form of currently wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces, Veterans Day, which is intentional, because the day belongs to as well as their families and dependents, to have their efforts all veterans -- not one individual or a select group, but all who and sacrifices remembered by their friends, neighbors and the have worn or wear the uniform. entire country. This day has special meaning Veterans do not consider for me as a decorated Vietnam themselves heroes or want copious Combat Veteran to remember amounts of praise or recognition. all veterans, including Vietnam Nonetheless, they appreciate having Veterans and especially the ones I fellow countrymen recognize served with in country. While I have their sacrifice such as exhibited by great admiration for World War I, Veterans Day celebrations around World War II, Korea, and other the country. The WWI veterans veterans, I want my country to know are gone, the number of WWII how valiantly Vietnam Veterans veterans is dwindling, the Korea served the United States of America. and Vietnam Veterans are rapidly They were every bit as capable and moving into their waning years, talented as their predecessors and and the Bosnia, Grenada, Iraq, and those that have followed in their Afghanistan veterans are aging as footsteps. Never once did I see them well. Veterans Day offers us the hesitate to enter a fight to protect opportunity to express our gratitude their comrades, often under the most for all those patriots that have served difficult of circumstances. and continue to serve to protect our Their willingness to protect this 1st Lieutenant Jim Baird, Fort Benning, freedoms. Veterans Day serves as country shall never be forgotten, GA, 1970. a reminder to us all that “All Gave and I want our Veterans to know Some and Some Gave All” and their service and patriotism is very Veterans Day serves as “Freedom is not Free.” By honoring much appreciated. Our country was our service men and women, we also going through some trying times a reminder to us all that honor their dependents and relatives, during that period in our nation’s “All Gave Some and Some and future generations will have the history, and Vietnam Veterans did opportunity to pay tribute to these not receive the recognition and Gave All” and “Freedom great Americans. expression of appreciation they is not Free.” Veterans Day was originally deserved. Fortunately, society known as Armistice Day and has changed and we are currently signified the end of hostilities of World War I. After World providing such recognition to all soldiers, including our beloved War II, an individual by the name of Raymond Weeks from Vietnam Veterans. Birmingham, Alabama presented his idea to expand the In conclusion, I will simply say God Bless the soldiers and meaning of Armistice Day to recognize all veterans, living their families and God Bless America. RF as well as deceased, to General Dwight D. Eisenhower who liked the idea. From that day forward, it became known as Jim Baird represents Indiana’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Veterans Day, and Mr. Weeks led the first and all subsequent Representatives. Congressman Baird served in the Vietnam War, such celebrations in Alabama from 1947 until his death in and his distinguished service to our country was recognized 1985. President Reagan presented Mr. Weeks the Presidential with a Bronze Star with V device and two Purple Hearts. 16

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“Service is Always Greater than Self.” by JACK BERGMAN

In 1969, I received my commission as 2nd military, during their days of active or reserve service, Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, completed and all the way through their life as a Veteran interacting flight training, and deployed to Vietnam as a CH-46 with the VA and continuing service in their civilian life. On Veterans Day this year, as I have for the past helicopter pilot. After 40 years of service to my country, I retired from my final assignment as Commander of several years, I will be joining friends in Gaylord, Marine Forces North/Marine Forces Reserve, at the Michigan, to thank and honor the many Veterans who call northern Michigan home. rank of Lieutenant General. But words and deeds remain My parents instilled in me the two different things, so as I value of service and my time as serve on the VA Committee, a Marine ignited a joyful love I’ve worked closely with for aviation, an intense passion my colleagues in the House for our nation’s freedoms, and a and with Veterans across deep appreciation for those who the District adopting good have served. legislation to ensure our Folks frequently ask me Veterans receive the personal about the proudest moment benefits they deserve. From of my life. Was it winning a the VA Mission Act and Congressional race as a political the VA Accountability and outsider? Pinning on my stars? Whistleblower Protection Act These questions miss the mark. to the Forever GI Bill, I’ve Outside of becoming a pushed significant policy father and grandfather, having changes within the VA that are the unique opportunity to lead now the law of the land. But Marines in the fight has always Lieutenant General Jack Bergman in 2005. our work is far from over, and been the proudest moment in a dark cloud hangs over us as my life. We know we aren’t in we celebrate this Veterans Day the fight for ourselves – we’re Outside of becoming a because over 20 of our Veteran in it for that Marine on our left brothers and sisters take their father and grandfather, and our right. Having served own lives in suicide every alongside some of the finest having the unique single day. people I’ve ever met, these were opportunity to lead In spite of record funding truly the proudest moments of being poured into the VA my life. Marines in the fight system to combat Veteran Yet after 40 years, I hung has always been the suicide, the number of suicides up the camouflage and traded it has remained relatively proudest moment in for a suit to have the distinct unchanged for over a decade. privilege of serving in the U.S. in my life. While there are many factors Congress. In this (relatively) such as isolation, lack of new role, I’m committed to our Armed Forces and those who’ve served in uniform. As access to care, and combat-related trauma that may a Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs contribute, the data shows that 7 out of every 10 Veteran and the House Armed Services Committee, I’ve made suicides are from people not within the VA system. For it my mission to positively influence the path of our this reason, I’ve introduced the IMPROVE Well-Being service men and women from the time they join the For Veterans Act with fellow Veteran Congresswoman 18

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Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA). This legislation would There is not a Veteran life that is acceptable to lose for fundamentally enhance coordination and planning of any reason and this common-sense legislation will help Veteran mental health and suicide prevention services by save lives of those who have sacrificed for our country. allowing the VA to provide grant funding to nonprofits As we celebrate our Veterans this week, remember and local organizations that can supply a range of services that all scars are not visible. Remember that we still fight to at-risk Veterans. We for the Marine, Soldier, are working to reach Sailor, Airmen, and the Veterans who have Coast Guardsmen on our I’m confident that in an era of been outside our system right and left. Remember political discord and partisan games, of care. Preventing that service is always leaders from both sides of the aisle Veteran suicide takes greater than self. And a community, and remember that the one will come together and put the needs this policy would be percent of Americans of our Veterans first. a monumental step who’ve answered the towards ending this call to serve in our crisis. nation’s uniform deserve With over a half-dozen VSOs supporting this our honor, respect, and thanks. RF legislation, over 140 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, companion legislation in the Senate, and support from Jack Bergman represents the 1st District of Michigan in VA Secretary Wilkie, I’m confident that in an era of the U.S. House of Representatives. Having retired as a political discord and partisan games, leaders from both Three-Star General in the Marine Corps, Bergman is the sides of the aisle will come together and put the needs of highest-ranking military official ever elected to the United our Veterans first. States Congress.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“Never Forget” by DAN CRENSHAW

Veterans Day. To some, it’s a day off from work. To Jim Mattis, I believe this is something we can change. some, it’s a time to remember their time serving. To others, Mattis said: “If we can create a society where respect and it’s a painful reminder of a loved one they’ve lost. It means friendliness is the passport that we all have when we meet something different for all of us. But maybe it shouldn’t. each other … then the military, who literally will go in Last year on Veterans Day, I found myself in a situation harm’s way for us, will not seem alien anymore.” This was that proved reality was stranger than fiction. I had just made a key point we wanted to make that night on Saturday Night an appearance on Saturday Night Live the night before. Live. When given the opportunity to do so, I was reluctant. I We can start by focusing on Veterans Day. As I did last didn’t feel like it was the right year, I challenge every American way to spend Veterans Day to say “never forget” to a veteran weekend. I asked the producers this Veterans Day instead of to pick a different weekend. The “thank you for your service.” producers at SNL said it had to Saying “never forget” shows be this weekend precisely because veterans you’ve shared that this appearance would be about experience with us. It doesn’t honoring veterans. So I decided to matter that you weren’t serving do it. with us; it doesn’t matter that The show gave me the chance you might not know where we to remind America about the things served, when, or how we served. that bring us together. Appreciating But by saying “never forget,” our veterans is still one of them. you’re telling a veteran you But there is no doubt that we’re appreciate everything they’ve losing many of the symbols that done for our country and that brought us together as Americans. you’re in it with them.  It’s not Things like the National Anthem, some mysterious unknown the American flag and the Pledge reality. It’s a fellow American of Allegiance used to be seen as who is fighting or fought to keep patriotic, things that were distinctly our country safe. It’s important By saying “never forget,” American and made us proud to we let them know how much you’re telling a veteran be from the greatest country in that means to us, even if we can’t you appreciate everything the history of the world. That’s fathom how they did it. no longer the case today. Those This Veterans Day, let’s get they’ve done for our historic symbols are offensive to back to the things that defined country. some, slowly but surely pushing America for generations: love a sense of patriotism out of our of country, patriotism, optimism, society. and a deep appreciation of our Many Americans are disconnected from the veteran veterans of past and present. community. According to data from 2016, just 7% of Never Forget. RF Americans are veterans. In 1980, that figure was 18%. The civilian-military divide is growing, with fewer and fewer Dan Crenshaw represents the 2nd District of Texas in the Americans who know someone who served in the military.  U.S. House of Representatives. Dan was medically retired As someone who served, I understand why. They are two in September of 2016 as a Lieutenant Commander after completely different lifestyles, which is why veterans serving ten years in the SEAL Teams. He left service with typically struggle with returning to civilian life. It’s hard two Bronze Stars (one with Valor), the Purple Heart, the for veterans to imagine the regular work life, just like it’s Navy Commendation Medal with Valor, and multiple other hard for a civilian to fathom life in combat. But like General awards. 20

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“We Must Ensure Our Veterans Know that They are Not Alone.” by ADAM KINZINGER

America has the greatest military in the world, bar the skills they learned in the military are transferable to none. Our men and women are well trained, equipped, and civilian jobs. prepared for battle. We revere our heroes who serve and In Congress, I’m working to remove qualification sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy here at home. But what barriers and improve the hiring process for these jobs. happens when they come back from that service? For example, our health emergency services nationwide We look at those service are struggling to keep up with members from the Greatest the opioid crisis. This shortage Generation with awe, of EMTs can be mitigated by admiration, and a longing for helping states streamline the that patriotism we feel when requirements and procedures to we think about their righteous hire veterans with military EMT battles against Nazi Germany. training. This is a perfect job We remember the Forgotten for a veteran who has dedicated War heroes of the Korean War his or her life to serving and our Vietnam veterans with others, and a major asset to the such respect and gratitude for communities grappling with all they endured, and with the this drug epidemic. latter, we try to make up for The opioid crisis is a the hostile return home they very real concern, and it received back then. affects nearly everyone. The For those who served in advancements in medicine Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and have been incredible in many around the world in the War respects, but we need to realize on Terror, their return home is the dangers and risks for drug different because the times we abuse, misuse, and addiction live in are different. As a nation, — especially when it comes to we need to address the issues opioids. It’s hard to fully describe and the stigmas that far too Our veterans returning many of our veterans face. home from the battlefield are the relationships you build The advancements in often vulnerable, and while with your brothers and technology and medicine are medication is necessary for incredible, but both have very some, it’s not necessary for sisters in uniform. real drawbacks. The internet all. Veteran suicide is a very is a great tool for connecting real and tragic reality. Rather us through social media and than pushing medication on providing access to veteran health benefits and resources. patients, we need to come at this issue from a more holistic But as we all know, social media has its downsides. approach. Veterans can feel especially isolated from their battlefield Last Congress, we passed landmark opioids legislation experience when they reintegrate into civilian life. Their (H.R. 6), and I was proud to have my legislation included mission is over and the message they see when they get in the final package. The Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act back is that life moved on without them. Our service allows us to find alternate methods of treating pain through members need that renewed sense of purpose when innovation by making Medicare and Medicaid more flexible, returning home, and one of the ways to fill that void is adaptable, and focused on preventing (and treating) addiction. a career and community involvement. Without question, Another avenue to tackle this issue is through community. 22

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I firmly believe community is the most critical part of prosthetics, and for reaching our veterans in rural areas returning home from the military, and for those struggling through telemedicine. These are all important and hugely with opioid addiction, suicidal thoughts, depression, and helpful to making sure we are there for our nation’s heroes. beyond. Having a support network and a sense of belonging But let’s also remember that these men and women is important to all of us. It’s in our human nature to be are strong, courageous, and battle-tested. They don’t need loyal to a tribe, to a community. Being in the military, to be coddled or overly medicated. We undoubtedly owe a you have that tribe and it’s instinctive. It’s hard to fully debt of gratitude to our veterans and their families. And we describe the relationships need to be there for them you build with your on both the battlefield and brothers and sisters in back at home. As we evaluate how best to help uniform, but when you We can and must our veterans in the 21st century, are removed from that do more to support our world, that tribe, it can be veterans and guide them I believe community is key. a shock to the system and back into civilian life hard to manage alone. with that renewed sense So, as we evaluate of purpose. Having one how best to help our veterans in the 21st century, I believe another’s back is the crux of a tribe, and as a community, we community is key. I’m grateful for the advancements in must ensure our veterans know that they are not alone. RF technology that connect us to military podcasts like Zero Blog Thirty and Team Never Quit, where we can tune Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th Congressional District in and relate to our fellow veterans. I’m grateful for the of Illinois. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 2003, advancements in medicine that help veterans struggling Kinzinger served in the Air Force in both Operation Iraqi with PTS and suicidal thoughts. I’m grateful for the Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He continues advancements in both these fields combined that make to serve his country as a pilot in the Air National Guard, it possible for wounded veterans to walk or run with with the current rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Lieutenant Colonel Kinzinger with fellow airmen in his Wisconsin unit.

Source: American Action Forum

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“Every Service Member is United in Their Choice to Put Service Before Self.” by BRIAN MAST

The most important and unregrettable time of my life was and other health care professionals who serve them — that I the 12 years I spent in the Army. I became a bomb technician have dedicated my time in Congress to fixing the issues that still because I wanted to save lives and serve a cause greater than plague our veterans health system. That’s why I opened the firstmyself. I nearly gave my own life for that — I lost both my legs ever Congressional office inside a VA hospital to help veterans and a finger when a roadside bomb detonated beneath me — and when and where they need it most. Since opening in 2017, our have known more heroes than I can office has helped more than 500 count who died defending others. veterans at the West Palm Beach I remember the day I was VA resolve issues like disability injured — September 19, 2010 — claims and benefits appeals when very clearly. What I remember they had nowhere else to turn. most, though, isn’t the bomb I believe every single detonating. Instead, it’s hearing Member of Congress should be my fellow soldiers yelling “EOD is able to do the same at their local hit, EOD is hit.” I remember them VA, which is why I introduced rushing to my side, I remember the Improving Veterans Access seeing the world go by horizontally to Congressional Services Act as they carried my stretcher across to pave the way to make that the terrain to load me onto a high level of service a reality helicopter, and I remember them for veterans all across the rendering me one final salute as the country. By cutting down on helicopter took off. Their selfless bureaucracy, we can fix these acts of courage are the only reason problems and ensure that future that I am still here today. generations of servicemen and Then, I remember nothing women are not burdened with until I woke up days later after the same challenges facing numerous surgeries, which included today’s veterans. amputating both of my legs and The bottom line is that we I became a bomb technician stitching my hand to my chest to can and must do more to support because I wanted to save lives our nation’s veterans. So, on prevent further damage. Despite all this, when I arrived at Walter Reed Veterans Day, please join me in and serve a cause greater Army Medical Center in Bethesda, recognizing our neighbors who than myself. MD, I was surrounded by men and had the fortitude to put on the women who were significantly uniform and dedicate their life to more grievously wounded than I. serving our country. By swearing Nonetheless, they pushed me every day to be the best version the oath, donning the uniform, and offering to give the last beat of myself and demonstrated a remarkable resolve that inspires of their heart, every service member is united in their choice to me to this day. put service before self and commit their life to a larger cause. Each Veterans Day, I think of these men and women — The very least we can do is to return that commitment. RF heroes like Marine vet Rob Jones, who after losing both of his legs, ran 31 marathons in 31 days to raise money for veterans Brian Mast represents the 18th District of Florida in the charities and is now running to continue his service to our U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Mast served country by representing Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years, earning medals I also think of the many amazing health care professionals who including The Bronze Star Medal, The Army Commendation helped piece us back together. Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart Medal, and The Defense It’s for these veterans — and the many great nurses, doctors, Meritorious Service Medal. 24

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“We Will Remain

Always Faithful.” by GREG PENCE

As I travel Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District, I Lebanese Civil War. I spent time ashore as the battalion often visit local high schools so that young adults have liaison officer. Most evenings, I would go to the roof of the opportunity to hear from their elected representative. the Marine barracks and look out on the horizon. The One of the questions I get most is not about why I ran crack of gunfire made it very clear the danger unfolding for office or the day-to-day work of a Congressman. not far from where I sat, on top of the roof next to the What I am asked most American flag. often is why I wanted Though we came to become a Marine. in peace, I can attest What made me want to that there was no join? shortage of bravery When I enlisted in among the Marines 1979 as a young man, with which I served. I wanted a challenge. I On October wanted to serve and to 23rd, an Iranian be a part of something National affiliated bigger. I wanted to with Hezbollah be in the company of – a terror group heroes. founded, trained and That is what led financially supported me to the United States by the Iranian regime Marine Corps. Like – drove a truck bomb every Marine, I went to into the very barracks boot camp and took an I called home, 1st Lieutenant Greg Pence with two of his fellow Marines. oath to God, to Corps killing 241 American and to country. servicemembers, 220 Semper Fidelis of which were my Semper Fidelis is not just is not just a slogan or fellow Marines. a slogan or creed; it is a way of life creed; it is a way of It was the life that only those who deadliest day for the that only those who have earned the have earned the Eagle, Marine Corps since Eagle, Globe and Anchor can Globe and Anchor can the battle of Iwo Jima. fully understand. From It is by the grace fully understand.” Latin, the phrase means of God that I was always faithful. not among those Semper Fi is part American Heroes of the very fabric of every Marine, past and present. who were stolen from us. My battalion shipped out 10 Having later become an officer, I served as a First days before the bombing, bound for the Indian Ocean. Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. Our I was able to come home to my wife, Denise, who was battalion had a rich history, having fought at places expecting our first child, and my family in Columbus, like Guam and Iwo Jima in World War II, and the Tet Indiana. Offensive in Vietnam. Our motto was Fortune Favors Though I will never know exactly why I was spared the Brave. when so many were not, I have never forgotten those In 1983, we were ordered to Beirut, Lebanon as American heroes. part of the multinational peacekeeping force during the Earlier this year, I joined with my colleague, 26

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Congressman Ruben Gallego, a fellow Marine from murder of 241 patriots and provide a sliver of justice Arizona, in introducing H.R. 2790, Our Obligation to for the families they left behind. Recognize American Heroes Act. I am also proud to have coauthored a bipartisan Or, to put the bill in Marine terms, the OORAH Act. resolution that would make October 23, 2019 a national This legislation would allow day of remembrance. We should the Gold Star families who lost do so not only for the Soldiers, a loved one in the attack to Sailors and Marines lost more execute on the $1.68 billion in than three decades ago, but also Iranian funds currently held by for every veteran who has so a European-based firm. These nobly worn the uniform of our funds were laundered through Armed Forces. New York before making their As a Beirut Veteran, I way to Europe, where they sit understand that Our First Duty just outside the hands of justice. is to Remember. I could not be more pleased On this Veterans Day, we that the United States House of remember. And, we will remain Representatives came together Always Faithful. over the summer to pass the Semper Fi. RF OORAH Act by an overwhelming vote of 425 – 6, while the Senate Greg Pence represents the has agreed to similar language. 6th District of Indiana in the As a Beirut Veteran, My hope is that the OORAH U.S. House of Representatives. I understand that Our Act will soon become law so Greg joined the Marine Corps that we can hold accountable at a young age in 1979 in First Duty is to the terrorists responsible – and his hometown of Columbus, Remember. those who funded them – for the Indiana.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“Be Grateful for the Many Sacrifices that Keep Us Free.” by PHIL ROE

Every year on November 11th, Americans pay foreign country so that I, and every American, could tribute to the men and women who have served in the live freely and even unwittingly take our freedoms for United States Armed Forces. While Veterans Day was granted. The saying “freedom isn’t free” is cliché but deemed a national day of remembrance by President true; veterans paid a high price for it and we all reap the Woodrow Wilson in 1919, it was not always widely reward for their efforts. acknowledged and celebrated, The debt that we owe in and neither were veterans. return is one we will never I was drafted into the 2nd be able to repay, though Infantry Division’s Army the House Committee on Medical Corps in 1971 and Veterans’ Affairs strives to spent two years stationed in every day. I have served on South Korea, near the Korean the Committee since coming Demilitarized Zone. When I to Congress in 2009 and was was preparing to come home honored to be selected by my in 1974, I was warned not to fellow Republicans to serve wear my uniform on the plane as Chairman in 2017 and because it wouldn’t be wellRanking Member in 2019. received when I landed back There is nothing I take more in the country whose name I seriously than the privilege had proudly worn. Many who of serving veterans through served then were ‘welcomed’ our work on the Committee, home by protests and backlash. and I have great pride in what Our service, and the sacrifices we have done to address the that that service necessitated, issues that matter the most to had seemingly gone unnoticed them. and unappreciated. Last Congress, despite I don’t remember my first the increasing chaos and It is only with age that I have partisanship in Washington, Veterans Day after leaving the come to realize and truly Army but, as a physician-inlawmakers from both sides training at the time, I imagine of the aisle came together to understand the significance that I spent it on call at the give veterans greater quality of the sacrifices that hospital. I don’t remember care and greater choice in many Veterans Days after that where to seek care in the veterans made. either when I was consumed MISSION Act, to allow by the everyday concerns of veterans to use their GI raising a family and building a career. Coaching my Bill benefits whenever they choose in the Forever GI son’s soccer team, attending my daughter’s dance Bill, to make it easier for veterans to get their claims recitals, and starting my medical practice didn’t leave for disability compensation decided in the Appeals much time for reflection on my service or on anyone Modernization Act, and to ensure that the Department else’s. It is only with age that I have come to realize and of Veterans Affairs is responsive to veterans in the truly understand the significance of the sacrifices that Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. veterans made, which allowed me the freedom to go to Yet, one of the most notable actions Congress has those soccer matches and dance recitals and spend three taken to honor veterans occurred before I came to DC, decades in medicine. A veteran left their blood in some when the Veterans History Project was created in 2000. 28

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The Project allows veterans to share their stories about and respect they deserve. I certainly feel a greater their service and preserves those stories for future sense of responsibility than I did as a young man to generations to learn from and be inspired by. This participate in the many Veterans Day events in my year, Chairman Takano and I challenged all Members district that pay tribute to the veterans in my backyard. of Congress to submit at least one of their veteran This Veterans Day, I will be thinking about them, about constituent’s stories to the Project the millions of other veterans before Veterans Day. in the United States, about the As Karen Lloyd, the Project’s millions still serving, and about Director, said when the challenge the innumerable lives that have was announced, our veterans’ been lost in service throughout stories are not only their personal our country’s history. stories, but also America’s story. I encourage all Americans That story can only be fully told to join me in that remembrance by those who were there -- on and to take the time to reflect the battlefield’s front lines or on and be grateful for the many the Pentagon’s inner corridors sacrifices, both great and small, and every place in between -that keep us free. RF fighting to defend the freedom and opportunity that our country Dr. Phil Roe represents the Captain Phil Roe in 1972. is known for and has gifted to the 1st Congressional District of world in countless conflicts since Tennessee and is the Ranking A veteran left their blood the Revolutionary War. Member of the House Committee Veterans Day has, thankfully, in some foreign country so on Veterans’ Affairs. Upon developed a new meaning since medical school, he that I, and every American, graduating I left the Army as veterans are served in the United States Army could live freely. now given the honor, recognition, Medical Corps.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“It is Essential that We Take Care of Those Who Took Care of Us.” by GUY RESCHENTHALER

In 1918, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, SEAL. The SEAL was falsely accused of covering up at the eleventh hour, the Armistice Treaty went into the alleged abuse of the Butcher of Fallujah. effect, ending World War I. Due to the combination of In a textbook mission, the brave and honorable new technologies, outdated tactics, and large armies, SEALs of SEAL Team 10 captured the Butcher of the First World War concluded as one of the deadliest Fallujah, Ahmad Hashim Abd al-Isawi — the most wars in human history, with over fifteen million wanted and notoriously gruesome terrorist leader in servicemembers and civilians Iraq — alive and unharmed, dead. and transferred him out of their Originally known custody. Unfortunately, the as Armistice Day, every Butcher followed page one of November, we recognize the the Manchester manual, the albrave men and women who Qaeda handbook discovered in have served in our nation’s Manchester, England, by faking military. Since our founding, his own abuse and accusing the generations of heroes have SEALs of wrongdoing. been called to duty, from Taking the word of a fighting for a young republic terrorist over that of our SEALs, to defending our way of life the Department of Defense following the terrorist attacks threw the book at these three on September 11th, 2001. SEALs and tried to manipulate Encouraged by the them into confessing to lesser sacrifice of the veterans who charges. I returned to Baghdad came before me, I volunteered to personally cross-examine to serve in the U.S. Navy JAG the Butcher in defense of these Corps following graduation SEALs. During a 45-minute from Duquesne University cross-examination, and using School of Law. The Navy’s my experience prosecuting Since coming to Congress, Core Values of Honor, Courage, terrorists a few months prior, and Commitment were instilled I proved the Butcher was lying I am proud to have worked into me. and completely destroyed the on several issues to help our My service included two government’s case. I am proud deployments to Iraq. During to say all three SEALS were veterans. the first deployment of six fully acquitted and one of them months, I prosecuted those is still on the battlefield to this captured by U.S. Special Forces in the Central Criminal day. Court of Iraq, while stationed at a small forward Shortly after that case, I returned home to operating base in Baghdad – FOB Union III for those southwestern Pennsylvania. I soon decided to run that know of it. I made daily trips into the red zone to for office so I could continue serving those in my prosecute terrorists in Iraqi federal court, often as the community and my country. For me, it was important only American in the room. Using Iraqi law, in front to realize that you do not have to stop serving. There of Iraqi judges, through an interpreter, I successfully are so many other ways we can continue helping our prosecuted nearly 100 terrorists, including 13 death communities and our nation. penalty convictions. Shortly after my return to Norfolk, Since coming to Congress, I am proud to have Virginia, I was assigned a case to defend a U.S. Navy worked on several issues to help our veterans. I’m 30

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particularly focused on improving the mental health of Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-12), requires the VA to conduct a those who have served our nation. pilot study of nonprofit organizations that utilize nonTwenty veterans die by suicide each day. Up to traditional methods for treating PTSD, such as team twenty percent of veterans who served in Operation building and other exercises. In Somerset County, Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom suffer Pennsylvania, organizations like Semper Fi Odyssey from post-traumatic stress have successfully integrated disorder (PTSD) or major veterans back into public depression. Fortunately, our I’m particularly focused life through retreat sessions country has made advances in utilizing holistic approaches to on improving the mental treating mental illness among mental health care. health of those who have our nation’s veterans. Our country has sent Last year, the Trump generations of heroes to defend served our nation. Administration increased U.S. our freedom. It is essential that Department of Veterans Affairs we take care of those who took (VA) funding to the historic level of $85.3 billion. This care of us. Veterans Day is an important reminder to included robust funding for mental health services, suicide do just that. RF prevention, traumatic brain injury treatment, opioid abuse prevention, and rural veterans’ health initiatives. Guy Reschenthaler is the U.S. Representative But we must do more. That is why, as co-chair for Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District of the bipartisan Military Mental Health Taskforce, I encompassing Fayette, Greene, Washington, and introduced the Veterans Posttraumatic Growth Act. This portions of Westmoreland County. He is a former legislation, which I authored with my fellow co-chair, Navy JAG and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lieutenant Guy Reschenthaler on the tarmac in Baghdad in 2009.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“To All of Our Nation’s Veterans, We Thank You.” by STEVE STIVERS

In 1981, I joined the Ohio Army National Guard. At the time, one of the biggest motivators was to help pay for college at The Ohio State University, but what I quickly realized was that the lessons learned through my service were just as valuable as the classes I was taking.  No two stories of service are alike, and for some, it was more difficult.  However, I will always be appreciative of the lessons I learned that have helped to shape who I am today: a husband and father, a Member of Congress, and a Brigadier General. Over the past 34 years, my actions have been guided by a mission.  Whether during my time in the Ohio Senate, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, or now, in the U.S. House of Representatives, my experience in uniform has taught me that focusing on a mission makes it harder to be distracted by other things.  Particularly in the chaos of Washington, where the news of the day can turn the entire city on its head, knowing that my mission is to deliver results for the people of Ohio’s 15 th Congressional District helps me to focus on the things that matter, like cutting taxes, improving health care, or ensuring our veterans have the care that they deserve. Second only to the mission are the people that serve alongside you.  Your priority must be your team, the people who are responsible for helping you to achieve your mission. As a Brigadier General, it’s my responsibility to lead, but also to listen, and to do right by those in my command.  In 2003 and 2004, I was

overseas in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and Djibouti with 400 soldiers under my command. I will always be thankful that all 400 of us came home safely to our families, and even now, over 15 years later, I’m inspired by their commitment to our mission.  My deployment was a huge learning experience for me, and one that I draw on today.  There are nearly 800,000 Ohioans counting on me to be their voice in Congress.  I hear from them each day about the issues that they care about, and I’m inspired by their passion for improving our nation.  I try every day to work hard and to make them proud.  I believe that the lessons I learned as a soldier have made me a more effective legislator, particularly when it comes to advocating for our veterans.  That’s why one of my current missions is to help ease the transition from military service to civilian life, especially when it comes to their mental health. Together with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, I introduced the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act.  This bill would create a work-therapy program under the Veterans Administration (VA) for veterans to learn the art and science of training dogs for service. It’s about giving veterans a new mission -- training a dog -- that often helps alleviate their symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).  The bill then goes one step further.  Building on the bond that’s formed during training, veterans may

My experience in uniform has taught me that focusing on a mission makes it harder to be distracted by other things.

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then adopt their new canine partner. Trained to sense of that mission, I believe, makes me a more effective emotional signals for their veteran, these dogs are legislator. I am confident that the veterans across the highly-skilled and can make a real difference in the country lean on the lessons they learned in the service, day-to-day life of veterans still experiencing symptoms making them assets in every company and community of PTS. they are a part of. A soldier who served This Veterans Day, I under my command in would challenge each of you, This Veterans Day, I would Operation Iraqi Freedom not just to thank the veterans recently told me what his in your life, but to ask them challenge each of you, not just service dog, Athena, means about the lessons that they to thank the veterans in your to him. He was able to board learned.  Those lessons, and a plane for the first time in the men and women who life, but to ask them about the over a decade, he was able to embody them, are what make lessons that they learned. take his fiancée out to dinner our nation the land of the free, and he was able to return to and the home of the brave.  normalcy.  He got his life back because he knew that And to all of our nation’s veterans, we thank you. RF Athena had his back.  By pairing veterans with trained, skilled animals, our bill offers a new lease on life for Steve Stivers represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional many of our servicemembers.  District. Stivers has served over 30 years in the Ohio Being a member of the Ohio Army National Guard Army National Guard and holds the rank of Brigadier has given me countless lessons that I rely on every day General. He served the United States overseas during as a Member of Congress, particularly when it comes Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, and to paying it forward for our veterans.  Focusing on the Djibouti, receiving the Bronze Star for his leadership mission and never losing sight of the people at the heart throughout the deployment.

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“Let Us Never Forget Those Who Willingly Step Forward to Shoulder the Duty.” by BRAD WENSTRUP

For some, it’s a three-day weekend — an excuse to take not their reality. The stability, liberty, and peace we enjoy daily that trip, to go see family, or simply to enjoy a long weekend. is a unique gift, one that is fought for every day. As President For some, it’s a reminder to put out an American flag and thank Ronald Reagan once said, “If we look to the answer as to why the veteran that they see in the checkout line at the grocery story. for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other For others, it’s personal. It’s the memory of that jittery people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed feeling of holding up your homemade sign, waiting for mom the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than or dad, husband or wife, son or daughter, to come running to- has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the indiwards you out of a sea of unividual have been more availforms. It’s the deep breath you able and assured here than in took when your feet touched any other place on earth. The United States’ soil and, for price for this freedom at times the first time in many months, has been high, but we have you were not worrying about never been unwilling to pay who was trying to destroy the price.” you. You felt safe. For me, it’s Let us never forget those the faces and names of those who willingly step forward I served with and all those to shoulder the duty and that we served. It’s the Marine privilege of paying that price. praying his rosary as we took Today, amidst the clamor of his friend into the operating our busy schedules, our 24room. The Iraqi interpreters hour news cycle, and our who served alongside us so heated politics, I’d like our Major Brad Wenstrup in Iraq in 2005. faithfully. My fellow caregivcountry to take a collective ers. I think of them often – pause. I’d like for each of We each benefit from the sacrifices of us to stop, look up to the sun what are they all doing now? They are what Veterans Day and sky above us, and count those who put their lives on the line means to me. the many freedoms and to defend the freedom, peace, and Even if you did not serve, rights we are able to exercise prosperity we enjoy as a country. or have a family member without thinking every single who served, Veterans Day day. Remember to feel deep is personal for each of us gratitude for the many gifts as citizens of the United States of America. Daily, we each we enjoy, simply because of the privilege of being citizens benefit from the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the of this great country and the sacrifices that fellow Americans line to defend the freedom, peace, and prosperity we enjoy as a have made on our behalf.  country. Think about what they have kept the United States from Today is personal. We each have the individual becoming or enduring: occupations, invasions, dictatorships, responsibility to steward well what we have been given. Today terror attacks. It’s almost mind boggling to consider how history and every day, we have a responsibility to honor those who were could have been rewritten without their presence, standing in the willing to pay the price, as high as it may be. RF gap. Yet in our Armed Forces, Americans don’t just wear the uniform for our nation, Americans also fight for each other. We Brad Wenstrup represents Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District. fight for our fellow soldiers and also, in a very tangible way, for Brad has served in the U.S. Army Reserve since 1998, currently each and every citizen of the United States of America, so that holding the rank of colonel. In 2005-06, he served a tour in you would be able to focus on what you can do, not always what Iraq as a combat surgeon, and was awarded a Bronze Star and you can’t do. Combat Action Badge for his service. In 2018, Colonel Wenstrup For so many mothers and fathers around the world, that is was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism. RIPON FORUM November 2019

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WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO ME

“America Has Been a Shining Example of Freedom Because of Those Who Serve Her in Uniform.” by STEVE WOMACK

More than 100 years ago, at the eleventh hour, on the military service. It was not only a family tradition; it was eleventh day, of the eleventh month, World War I ended. a deep and abiding love of country that necessitated that I, Our nation began formally recognizing November 11th as too, needed to do my part. Now, in hindsight, I recognize Armistice Day, a time to honor our heroes who fought for the impact my thirty-plus years of National Guard service freedom during that war. had on my life. The training. Year after year, we The preparation. The long celebrated this pivotal day, hours and time away from but it soon became clear that family. The men and women we needed to expand the with whom I served. There observance. By the mid-1950s, was little doubt that my our country had also fought service not only helped my through World War II and the country — it helped me! Korean War. It was time to pay The inspiration tribute to all those who served of the Soldier’s Creed our exceptional country. is emblematic of the Through an act of Congress, commitment our servicemen Armistice Day officially and women make on behalf became Veterans Day. of America. There are many things -I will always place the that set America apart from mission first all other nations, and they are -I will never accept embedded in our founding defeat documents. We are a nation -I will never quit of the people, by the people, -I will never leave a and for the people. We have fallen comrade inalienable rights and are These are not just granted from our creator life, words, but are a nonWe understand that liberty and liberty and the pursuit of negotiable “contract” with the freedom are not guaranteed. happiness. But I believe one American people that clearly of our greatest differentiators demonstrates the concept of Our Constitution outlines these is our commitment to military service above self. bedrock principles, but they are service which secures these It has made me a better values. Congressman. I am committed secured by the collective sacrifice In America, we to supporting our heroes and of those who serve us in uniform. understand that liberty and ensuring that they are never in freedom are not guaranteed. a fair fight. I am committed to Our Constitution outlines these bedrock principles, but making certain that they are the best-manned, best trained, they are secured by the collective sacrifice of those who best equipped force on the planet. I am committed, also, to serve us in uniform. On Veterans Day, we honor these their families — a true combat multiplier! And when their brave men and women. service is complete, I am committed to making sure they are It was out of respect for our freedom that led me to provided the best care possible. RIPON FORUM November 2019

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Unfortunately, we fall short of that expectation on identifying the best and brightest young men and women occasion. In my own district, an impaired physician to serve as leaders of character in our service academies. jeopardized the lives of those under his care at the VA Grooming the next generation of military leaders is very Medical Center. Many of our veterans have seen the important to me. worst of military service — the ugly side of combat. We live in the greatest country in the history of They should never face hardship from the bureaucratic the world. America has been a shining example of institutions designed to freedom because of help them. those who serve her in With support uniform. To my fellow To my fellow veterans, thank you from VA Secretary veterans, thank you and and God bless you and Robert Wilkie and my God bless you and your colleagues in Congress, families! RF your families! I am hopeful that misconduct like this will Steve Womack represents be prevented with the implementation of new safeguards the 3rd District of Arkansas in the House of Representatives. that will provide our veterans the quality care they have In 2009, Womack retired with over thirty years of service earned. from the Arkansas Army National Guard at the rank I am also dedicated to other initiatives, including of Colonel. He was inducted into the Arkansas Officer programs to provide service dogs, aid in suicide Candidate School Hall of Fame in 2011, and in 2015, he prevention, bolster health care options, and assist in was awarded the Harry S. Truman Award – the highest transitioning to civilian life. And, as Chairman of recognition conferred upon an individual by the National the West Point Board of Visitors, I am committed to Guard Association of the United States.

Lieutenant Colonel Womack addresses troops in Sinai, Egypt in March 2002.

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They’ve given a lot for our country. Let’s give them a path to financial wellness. As service members transition to civilians, they’ll face many new financial decisions, and take on more costs and financial risks than ever before. We believe that helping veterans and their families achieve financial wellness has a far-reaching impact. That’s why we’re partnering with the USO to launch Prudential PathwaysSM workshops on key financial planning topics, and making financial wellness resources easy to access. How can your organization meet the challenge? We’ll help you find out. Because when veterans can build a solid financial foundation, it makes us all stronger.

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Ripon Forum - Veterans Day 2019  

Ripon Forum - Veterans Day 2019