Honoring America’s Heroes

May 19, 2014 Issues: Defense, Veterans

On May 26th we will celebrate Memorial Day, a national holiday to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.  The willingness of many to give their lives and livelihoods to defend our borders, our freedom, and our Republic has helped keep America the greatest nation on Earth.

In addition to honoring the fallen, May is also Military Appreciation Month.  I hope all Nebraskans will join me in thanking our veterans for their service.  The United States is the greatest source of good in the world in large part because of our men and women in uniform. 

American servicemen and women have not only served our nation, they have defended democratic values around the world, helped other nations recover from natural disasters, and defended innocent people from terrorists organizations, drug cartels, and oppressive dictators.  The strength, intelligence, and readiness of our military can serve as a deterrence to rogue nations from committing crimes against other nations or their own people.

In Nebraska, we take great pride in our veterans.  We are grateful for their service and we strive to make sure they receive the benefits and services they were promised and have earned.  Unfortunately, the quality of services for veterans does not always match our gratitude.

For example, veterans often face long wait times in scheduling appointments and a record backlog of cases continues to go unaddressed.  Most recently, there are reports as many as 40 veterans died waiting for medical appointments at the Phoenix, Arizona Veterans Health System.  Some of these veterans may have been placed on a secret waiting list to avoid scheduling appointments within the required period.  This behavior is unacceptable and is no way to show our respect to veterans who served our country, or any American.

The House of Representatives is working to investigate this situation, and I recently agreed to co-sponsor H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act.  This legislation would allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to remove Senior Executive Service employees based on their performance.  The individuals who allowed this abuse to occur should be held accountable for their actions.

If you are a veteran, or know a veteran, who is having difficulty securing your benefits or dealing with the Veterans Administration (VA), please contact my Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.  The caseworkers in my office may be able to help you cut through the red tape and resolve problems with the VA, or other federal agencies.

It is an honor to serve veterans because they have given us so much.  As you celebrate this Memorial Day, please take time to honor those who did not return from the battlefield, and all who have served to make possible our many blessings as Americans.