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Congressman Adrian Smith

Representing the 3rd District of Nebraska


Honoring Their Service

August 25, 2017

We must uphold our commitment to the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.  Since the start of this Congress, the House has passed two dozen bills to better serve our veterans.

Four of these bills have already been signed into law by President Trump, including the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.  This legislation provides the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove VA employees for poor performance or misconduct, while also strengthening whistleblower protections.  The HIRE Vets Act is now law as well and creates incentives for companies to hire veterans.

The House and Senate unanimously passed a bill at the end of July, which was signed into law in mid-August, to eliminate the current 15-year time limit for veterans to use their GI bill benefits and cut down on red tape.  With the ability to attend college at any time in their lives, veterans will have greater opportunities for professional and workforce development, and the flexibility to make the best education choices for themselves and their families.

Other bills passed by the House this year would reform the VA appeals process, enforce more accountability measures on VA scheduling, and improve access to the Adult Day Health Care program for severely disabled veterans.  Additionally, we passed legislation to expand the study of innovative therapies for treating posttraumatic stress disorder.

Each of these bills is designed to ensure veterans have access to the best possible care and resources.  As co-chairman of the Rural Veterans Caucus, I continue to advocate for our heroes in rural America.

In addition to pursuing sensible policies, another important way for us to serve our veterans is to preserve their stories.

The Library of Congress manages the Veterans History Project (VHP), which has compiled more than 100,000 firsthand accounts from America’s veterans.  On Wednesday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT, my office will host an interactive training workshop with the Library of Congress on how to conduct interviews with local veterans and submit them to the VHP.  The training will be streamed live at sites throughout the Third District.

Anyone interested in learning more about the VHP are encouraged to attend this workshop.  More information on locations will be provided in the coming weeks, and you can also call my Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900 with questions.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, only 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive today, with more than 3,800 of these veterans living in Nebraska.  Sadly, we lose an average of 362 of these brave Americans each day, along with a growing number of veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars. 

By preserving veterans’ personal narratives, we can ensure these valuable accounts of our nation’s history are not lost to the passage of time.  Visiting with veterans and learning more about their experiences is also a meaningful way to show our gratitude to these heroes and remind them of the lasting impacts of their service.

My grandfather served in World War II, and I know what a meaningful impact his story had on my life and my decision to pursue a career in public service.  I urge all Nebraska veterans to share their stories as we keep working to ensure they receive the care and services they deserve.