Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Recognizing Veterans Day

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Washington, November 4, 2016 | comments
The roots of Veterans Day can be traced to November 11, 1918. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice that ended fighting on the western front of World War I between America and her allies, and Germany took effect. It was the end to the most horrific war the world had known to that point. 2.8 million Americans were drafted into military service and 116,708 of those who went overseas did not come home.
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The roots of Veterans Day can be traced to November 11, 1918. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice that ended fighting on the western front of World War I between America and her allies, and Germany took effect. It was the end to the most horrific war the world had known to that point. 2.8 million Americans were drafted into military service and 116,708 of those who went overseas did not come home.

In the aftermath of World War I, Americans observed Armistice Day on November 11th. In 1954, nearly nine years after World War II veteran Raymond Weeks first proposed that America honor all veterans on November 11th, not just those from World War I, Congress passed legislation that was signed by President Eisenhower to mark the day as Veterans Day.

American veterans have risked it all for our country and for their fellow citizens. As such, it is our duty to make sure that we not only honor them on November 11th, but make sure we are doing everything we can to support them every single day of the year.

One very difficult topic that we must confront is  alarming number of veterans who commit suicide. Reports indicate that, on average, 20 American veterans commit suicide per day. This cannot be ignored: a greater number of veterans take their own lives in a single year than the total number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001–2014.

Earlier this year, I learned from a number of constituents that veterans had been placed on hold for long periods of time or even disconnected completely from the Veterans Crisis Line, which is the VA’s suicide prevention hotline. After further investigation, I discovered that the VA’s own Inspector General had also uncovered significant shortcomings at the Veterans Crisis Line and made a number of recommendations to the VA to fix them. I have demanded answers from the VA about how this happened and whether the problems have been fixed. It is unacceptable for bureaucrats to fail our veterans in their greatest time of need. America’s veterans, and Congress, deserve a response.

Another important topic that illustrates that daily struggle of many veterans is homelessness. As a country, we need to take a hard look and do more to make sure that veterans returning home have a place to call home. H.R. 3700, a bill that I wrote and that was signed into law earlier this year, has a provision in it that veterans have access to homeless and homeless assistance programs. Having shelter goes a long way towards helping veterans returning from overseas adjust back to civilian life in America.

Without our veterans who have served our nation, we would not have the rights and privileges that we sometimes take for granted as Americans. I want to thank all of the men and women who have or continue to selflessly put on the uniform each and every day to serve our country while looking for nothing in return. Please always remember you have the full gratitude from a nation of thankful Americans.

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