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Celebrating Our Heroes This Veterans Day

Commentary by Rep. James Comer, First District of Kentucky

I am fortunate to represent a congressional district that many U.S. Military veterans call home. During my time serving in the state legislature, as Agriculture Commissioner and now as the Representative for Kentucky's First District, I have had the privilege of meeting countless men and women who have bravely served our nation. My constituency of active duty and retired servicemembers and veterans have unique backgrounds and stories that reflect the incredible character of Kentucky and our nation as a whole.

This Veterans Day, I am immensely grateful as I reflect on all that our veterans have accomplished for our communities and for our nation.

While we can never fully repay our veterans for the sacrifices they have made for our country, I am steadfastly committed to ensuring veterans and their families have the protections and benefits due to them. Fortunately, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have set positive changes in motion that not only ramp up defense spending and rebuild our military, but also reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve vital programs for our deserving veterans. During the 115th Congress, my congressional colleagues and I made significant strides to revitalize and streamline programs provided by the VA. For too long, this agency has not been fulfilling its mission of providing quality care to our nation's heroes. Although there are still many improvements to be made within the agency, I am proud of the bold legislation enacted focused on eliminating waste and fraud in the VA and ensuring our nation's patriots receive first-class, timely care.

My congressional colleagues and I along with President Trump promised comprehensive reforms to the VA - and we delivered on that promise. President Trump signed the VA Mission Act into law this past June, generating major revisions to the functionality of the agency, creating more non-VA health care choices for vets, and providing accessible, timely care for our heroes. Through streamlining the VA's duplicative community care programs into one cohesive program and providing additional funding for the Choice Program, our veterans are assured the care they have earned. The VA Mission Act is a tremendous triumph for millions of military veterans across the U.S.

In addition to reforming the VA, we must continue to strengthen and protect servicemembers' benefits. After our veterans' hard years of service, it is important that we fulfill promises to protect and care for them as they did for us. For this reason, I have supported many measures that provide our vets with the resources they need after they have served our nation. Namely, I am an original co-sponsor of the Retired Pay Restoration Act, which allows veterans to receive both the retirement payments they earned through their career of military service and disability payments from the VA. The denial of earned benefits to disabled military retirees is a problem that must be fixed, and this legislation is an important first step in making this solution a reality.

We should never take for granted the sacrifices our servicemembers, veterans and their families have made for this country. This past June, President Donald Trump presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Garlin Conner - a Clinton County native - to commemorate his exceptional valor in combat during World War II. I was honored to play a role in helping secure the Medal of Honor for this incredible war hero and attend the ceremony as First Lieutenant Conner's wife, Pauline, accepted the honor at the White House. This event was a powerful reminder of just how pivotal our servicemembers are in preserving American lives, values and safety. It was also a reminder of the unique history we share as Americans and the incredible character of our active duty and retired servicemembers and veterans who have shaped this nation.

Our military veterans - those who have passed and those who are still with us - have bestowed great wisdom on our communities in sharing their unique experiences, sacrifices, and perspectives from serving this country. Their sacrifices have undoubtedly molded our great nation, and I have the privilege of representing many of these patriots. This Veterans Day, I give thanks to all who have served our nation in this significant way. God bless America and our brave military veterans.

This story was posted on 2018-11-09 21:37:52
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