Our nation is indebted to those individuals who have served in the Armed Services and we must keep our commitment to these brave men and women. I recognize the importance of ensuring the federal government takes the necessary steps to address the needs of veterans and to acknowledge the sacrifices they have made for the very freedom we hold dear. I have been honored to meet many of the thousands of veterans who call Idaho home.
I have also had the privilege of interviewing some of these brave men and women for theLibrary of Congress Veterans History Project. In recording their wartime memories, I have heard stories of bravery in face of the enemy and extraordinary love and support by the families they left behind. As elected officials, it is only proper that we also show our support. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to improve benefits and programs for our nation's veterans. Each day we see reports about the price our military members pay to defend our freedom and protect our national security. We must never forget their contributions or that of the veterans who have gone before them. Another way to pay tribute to those who have served our country is through an online interactive photo of the Vietnam War Memorial, which allows viewers to add photos, comments and stories about those who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict. To visit the site, please click here to link to Footnote.com.
Idaho is home to thousands of veterans, who served our country honorably. It is important that we make sure that we show the proper respect to those veterans. In the 110th Congress, I joined with my colleagues to designate March 25, 2007, as National Medal of Honor Day. More than 3,400 service personnel have received the Medal of Honor since it was first awarded on March 25, 1863, to six Union soldiers. Only 111 recipients of the nation's highest military honor are still living; at least five of those live in Idaho.
Another way to represent Idaho's veterans is through my caucus choices. I am a member of the Senate Reserve, National Guard and Air Force Caucuses. In 2002, I established the Idaho Spirit of Freedom Award to honor veterans for their service to our nation and the volunteers who assist our veterans. The statewide nomination process includes input from a number of partners, including the Idaho Division of Veteran’s Affairs, the Idaho State Veterans’ Homes (ISVH), the VA Regional Office, the VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Boise, as well as the commanders of chartered veterans’ service organizations in Idaho.