Opinions and Speeches

Veterans Day is an important reminder for all of us to stop, reflect and give thanks for the service and sacrifice veterans make for their country and for us.

We should never forget or take for granted the freedoms we have as Americans. Freedoms enabled by the sacrifices made by American veterans so that you and I can openly speak, work, worship and live in the greatest country on the face of this earth.

Our Founding Fathers understood the risk they took when declaring independence and laying the foundation of our republic. It's a republic that continues to be a beacon of liberty, in large measure because of the men and women who understand the risk they take when they put on a uniform and swear to protect our country and our constitution with their lives, if necessary.

Earlier this year, I had the honor of meeting one such hero, a 96-year-old U.S. Army veteran Ralph Rumsey of Woodstock, Ga. While serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Mr. Rumsey was captured by the Nazis and held prisoner for six months from April 15, 1945, to October 12, 1945.

It was my privilege to present Mr. Rumsey with the Prisoner of War Medal nearly 73 years after his release. I was honored to acknowledge Mr. Rumsey’s service and commitment to his country in front of his friends and family, and I hope he will wear the medal with pride. I know his family, and hopefully a few more Americans, will cherish his story for generations to come.

Mr. Rumsey's comments that day about standing up to serve his county during one of its darkest hours are a good reminder of the commitment and sacrifice service members continue to make today. They not only relinquish the comforts of home, but they risk life, limb, and imprisonment.

Mr. Rumsey’s service is what our country is all about. Without heroes like him, our republic would cease to exist. 

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’m proud of the accomplishments we have made to fulfill our promises to those who have borne the battle in defense of the United States. Every day, our committee is focused on ensuring that the quality care and support that veterans earned are available to them.

So far this year, Congress has sent 22 pieces of veterans’ legislation to the president's desk to be signed into law. These laws aim to strengthen veterans’ health care, benefits and services. The Senate has confirmed 14 of President Trump’s nominees to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. These men and women must carry out the VA’s mission and improve VA’s customer service and deliver results for veterans.

At the start of this Congress in January 2017, senators on the VA committee committed to set political party differences aside and vowed to find common ground on behalf of veterans. We now have significant, positive results to show for it.

During their active duty service, our veterans were accountable to us. Now, we are going to make sure we are accountable to them.

Today and every day, may God bless our veterans, and may God bless America.

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