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Veterans Deserve Our Best

web posted November 5, 2009
GUEST OPINION - One of my favorite traditions of the U.S. military is the lowering of the flag at 5:00 pm on all our bases.  Patriotic music is played; military personnel stop where they are, salute and stand at attention with pride as the flag of the United States of America is slowly lowered, folded and retired until the next day.

As a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, I was one of those proud, young officers who participated in this ceremony. It was an honor to pause and remember … as it is today for us all to pause and remember.

Honoring our veterans involves more than special ceremonies. It obliges us to remember that they need our support during and after their service. Regrettably, meeting the needs of our veterans tends to happen only when Congress is prodded to action.

Sad to say, our leaders do not always show the care and concern needed to help those who gave so much.

There were the horror stories of our wounded service men and women returning to despicable conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital.  We heard the tragedies of how they were not transported to much needed care and therapy.  There were long delays in the transition from active duty to veterans’ benefits. 

That is changing.

In the past two years, our government finally responded to the needs of all of our veterans.  Congress passed two pieces of landmark veterans’ legislation.

The VA Advance Appropriations bill*, passed just last month, puts funding for our military veterans as top priority instead of leaving it at the bottom of the list. It removes partisanship and politics from the veterans’ funding process. This allows our veterans’ programs to always be funded instead of getting the leftovers — if there were any.

Last year, the new GI Bill began offering education benefits** that we have not seen since WWII.  These benefits allow our military men and women the opportunity to improve their education.  Higher education combined with their tremendous military experience allows them to achieve their hopes and dreams.

Our veterans clearly deserve the best we can offer. These are our heroes, whether they are WWII, Korean War, Vietnam or Gulf War vets or those fighting today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a female vet, I want to speak on behalf of the women who have served. There have been many … more than 2.5 million since the Revolutionary War.

According to Senator Linda Murkowski (R-AK),    “Women make up 14 percent of our current active duty, guard and reserves. It is projected that the number of female veterans who use the VA system will double in the next five years, making women veterans one of the fastest growing subgroups of veterans.”***

For our military men and women alike, we must go the extra mile for them and their families, all who have sacrificed so much.

So, as you honor them today with a salute or a few moments of reflection, please remember that our support must not be only ceremonial but also depends on Congress to give them the best.

Our veterans deserve no less.

Jane Dyer

Jane Dyer is the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 3rd District.


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