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U.S. National Debt:

Recognizing Service Of Vietnam Veterans

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Our country has a deep history of honoring our heroes and learning from their selfless service.  But, rather than being welcomed home, our troops who served in Vietnam faced treatment unworthy of their courage and sacrifice.  We must never let this happen again.  It is encouraging to see efforts underway to better recognize the service of great Americans. 

I have joined my colleagues in proclaiming March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day.  The U.S. Senate paid tribute to the more than 58,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces who lost their lives in Vietnam and the 300,000 service members who were wounded in the line-of-duty.  We recognized that those who served bravely and faithfully for our country during the Vietnam War were wrongly criticized for policy decisions they had no part in making.

Communities throughout Idaho have also made efforts to honor veterans who served in Vietnam.  Several communities have hosted the traveling Vietnam War Memorial, a replica of the memorial found in Washington, D.C.  Others have held commemoration events such as the one put on by Hospice Visions in Twin Falls and appreciation dinners like the one I recently was a part of in Idaho Falls.

Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day is meant to encourage activities like these that provide the appreciation Vietnam War Veterans deserve, but unfortunately, did not receive when they returned home from war; express that our nation shall not repeat the unjust treatment; and promote awareness of the contributions of Vietnam War Veterans during their military service and after returning home.  The designation is also intended to advance the recognition of the importance of communities working to empower veterans and their families following their return from service and assist with the readjustment to civilian life, and also further opportunities for veterans to assist younger veterans with reintegration into civilian life.

One of the inspiring parts of meeting with and honoring Idaho veterans has been seeing how often veterans from past wars, including many Vietnam War Veterans, step up time and time again to assist their fellow veterans.  They bravely served our nation and continue to serve in countless areas of our communities.  They know the cost of war, and their perspective enables them to reach fellow veterans with a shared understanding.

The exemplary and ongoing service of our nation's veterans are at the forefront of my thoughts as I work for improvements to veterans services.  Our nation must ensure that the services provided to support their military service respect the personal costs of our freedoms.  We cannot let up in our work to make sure that quality veterans services are easily accessible. 

Every day, when we wake up safe from harm and with freedoms envied in many parts of the world, we must remember veterans and the families who give so greatly to support their service.  We are blessed to live in a country with brave Americans who embody the truest form of selfless service-willingness to give their own lives to protect others.  I cannot convey strongly enough my appreciation for that service.  

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