This Sunday, we pay tribute to nearly 22 million veterans in the United States. Recognizing those who donned the uniform of one of our military branches, we think of the veterans from the Greatest Generation who served with tremendous courage during World War II; the young Soldiers and Marines sent to Vietnam in the 1960s and ‘70s; and the men and women who have served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight against global terror.
Veterans Day was originally recognized as Armistice Day on the first anniversary of the end of World War I – November 11, 1919. Seven years later, Congress passed a resolution marking the annual observance to recognize the courage of those serving in armed conflicts. In 1938, November 11th officially became the national holiday that we observe today as Veterans Day.
Now, each November, our country pauses to pay respect to the men and women who faithfully served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans of the United States have risked their lives throughout our history to ensure the security of our homeland while protecting the freedom of the American citizenry.
As the Representative of the 15th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, I am committed to ensuring veterans and their families who have given of themselves receive the support they need to move their lives forward after their service. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have the tremendous responsibility of working with my colleagues to develop annual legislation poised to support federal veterans’ health programs, housing and education initiatives. In May, H.R. 5854 was considered and passed by the Committee and the entire House, proposing $135.4 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs – including $6.2 billion for mental health services and $5.8 billion for the treatment of homeless veterans.
Additionally, I am committed to getting our veterans back to work. I continue to support the Post 9/11 GI bill for men and women embarking on a new civilian career once they return from the field. Advanced education for these talented individuals will assist each of them or their spouse achieve their professional goals once their military service is complete.
Unfortunately, the challenges facing our economy in recent years have dampened civilian employment opportunities for veterans. In response, the bi-partisan Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act was signed into law in November 2011 with my support (P.L. 112-56). This initiative was crafted to support service members as they shift to new pursuits once completing their military service, as well as older veterans who may be in the midst of unemployment. Veterans meeting certain criteria will be eligible to participate in a twelve-month program to seek training at a technical school or community college.
In taking the time to remember America’s veterans, we are also reminded to express our gratitude to our troops currently serving around the globe. I have visited our service members overseas on several occasions. I am always humbled to meet those so willing to commit their time, skill and talent to protect and defend our great nation.I am eternally grateful to our veterans and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve American liberties. This Veterans Day, I encourage all Americans to take a moment to thank a veteran or current member of the Armed Forces for his or her service to our nation.