This Veterans Day, we must not allow current events to draw our hearts and minds away from the American heroes who have answered the call, defended our country and fought for our cherished republic. In fact, our elections should remind us that without the service of brave, patriotic Americans, we could not defend our nation’s values.
Because of their courage, sacrifice and service, we are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world. From Bunker Hill to Normandy to Afghanistan, our country’s freedom is forged by the sacrifice of our veterans and the best military in the world.
As the daughter and granddaughter of veterans, a deep respect for your service is part of my own calling to serve America. As a U.S. senator who represents the more than 700,000 veterans and the 96,000 troops who call Georgia home, I am committed to fighting on your behalf. It is one of my top priorities in Washington to ensure our veterans and their families are taken care of by the nation they served.
I believe we have a duty to support our veterans as they transition out of the military, and we need to ensure they and their families live healthy, prosperous and productive lives. Unfortunately, we too often fall short of that responsibility. Whether its access to health care or housing, our heroes deserve the very best tools to transition to civilian life successfully — and too many of them simply aren't able to access needed resources.
Under President Trump, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant progress in improving services for veterans. The pandemic has brought added challenges, including veterans accessing doctors or having to wait unacceptably long for an appointment.
Through my work on the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for veterans to access health care, an objective made all the more crucial during the pandemic. In May, along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I introduced the bipartisan VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act to allow more veterans to connect via telehealth with their doctors from the safety of their own homes. While we must do all we can to ensure veterans have the full spectrum of in-person care, especially mental health services, our bill will help guarantee veterans and their families can still receive the care they need as we fight COVID-19.
Homelessness is another serious problem we must address in the veteran community. While less than 10% of the population of the United States are veterans, they comprise a quarter of the entire homeless population. To help solve this issue, I introduced the Reducing Veterans Homelessness Act alongside Sen. Mike Rounds to make much-needed changes to two programs at the VA to create a pathway home for veterans.
I’m also taking action to help small business owners who are veterans. In August, I introduced the Verification Alignment and Service-disabled Business Adjustment Act to streamline the federal contracting process for all veteran-owned small businesses. This will ensure contracts reserved for service-disabled veterans actually go to those qualified entrepreneurs to support their success in the private sector.
If you’re a veteran or the loved one of a veteran who’s struggling with mental health, homelessness, receiving benefits or any other issue, please call my office. Let us know the challenge you’re facing, and we’ll do our part to serve you and always have your back.
These are just a few steps I have taken to help Georgia veterans, but I know the fight is far from over. As we pause on this day to reflect and honor all our veterans, I’m reminded of President Ronald Reagan, who said, “Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they've suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.”
Let us learn from their example of service. Let us honor their service not just with words but by following their lead to look past what differentiates us and unite around those common bonds that bring us together. It is in this spirit that I offer my thanks and deep appreciation to our veterans for your service, your sacrifice and your selfless commitment to the principles and freedom we cherish. You are what makes America the greatest country in the world.