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Weekly Column: Honoring Veterans

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Veterans, by putting their lives on the line for their country, communities, fellow servicemembers and fellow Americans, represent the ultimate sacrifice, which is at the core of their service.  We honor veterans this Veterans Day by recognizing the foundation of their service and helping to ensure that their immense commitment is acknowledged and respected.

One of the most fundamental ways to respect veterans’ dedication is by providing full support for their service, not only while deployed, but also when they return home.  Significant veterans services reforms have been enacted and advanced by this Congress: 

  • Health Care Access:  In June, Congress overwhelmingly passed and the President signed into law improvements, including some I authored, that will help make understanding and navigating health care options both inside and outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) more straightforward for veterans.  The law, known as the VA MISSION Act, consolidates the current seven VA community care programs into a new Veteran Community Care Program to streamline the delivery of local, community-based health care to veterans when it is in the best medical interest of the veteran. 
  • Return to Civilian Life:  In July, I introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), the multiagency program that provides preseparation counseling and assistance to separating servicemembers to help them transition from military service to civilian life.  The purpose of S.3299, the Improving Preparation and Resources for Occupational, Vocational, and Educational (IMPROVE) Transition for Servicemembers Act, is to improve outcomes for veterans by increasing access to and awareness of TAP resources and improving coordination and information-sharing among federal, state and community-based organizations that assist transitioning veterans.  
  • Education Benefits:  Last year, Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which improves access to veterans’ educational benefits.  The law’s many changes include a provision, named for Idahoan Shauna Hill who was killed in an automobile accident, enabling veterans to reassign educational benefits to a dependent in the event the original recipient dies. 

These are just some of the efforts underway to help ensure federal policies reflect gratitude for veterans’ commitment.  I will continue to work to ensure these laws are effectively implemented and needed reforms are enacted.  Thank you to all those who come together on Veterans Day and throughout the year to honor our nation’s veterans.  Thank you to the military families who support the service of their loved ones in uniform and make immense sacrifices themselves, forgoing precious time with their uniformed family members and providing support and stability they need so they can serve. 

And, thank you, above all, to our nation’s veterans.  You keep us safe and secure our freedoms so that our country remains a prevailing standard of freedom in our world.  You give us, and others around the world, not just protection, but faith in the ideal of our United States of America as a strong force for good.  The ultimate dedication you represent is the heart of our nation.  We must never lose sight of that.

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