Bob Goodlatte: Remembering those who have served

bob-goodlatte-afp2President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” While these words were spoken long ago, they are still words that we must abide by today. We cannot forget our defenders of freedom who have sacrificed so much for this great nation. As Americans, we must remember the men and women who have answered the call to serve both in times of war and peace. Our veterans have stood guard on distant battlefields and here at home to protect the liberties at the core of the United States.

It is altogether fitting that we honor the sacrifices these men and women make on our behalf by ensuring they receive the care and support they deserve both during and after their service. Unfortunately, the scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs that was brought to light earlier this year is a stark reminder that we must remain vigilant and steadfast in this effort. Cover-ups, backlogs, and delayed services do not best serve the nearly 20 million veterans currently living in the U.S. Without a doubt, those who have fought in defense of freedom should have an accessible VA system that actually works – and we must do more to ensure they have it.

While Congress has already approved bipartisan reforms to improve access to care for our veterans in response to this gross mismanagement, we must continue to work with the current Administration to guarantee greater accountability within the system. In addition, it is critical that Congress work to help combat the unacceptably high rates of unemployment among our veterans, and work to meet the needs of our returning veterans who suffer from the mental and physical wounds of war.

Both young and old, we have much to learn from the stories and experiences of our veterans. Some stories are difficult to say aloud, others are a struggle to remember, and many more tell of great valor in the line of duty. I am truly grateful to hear these stories, as I have on many occasions when traveling throughout the Sixth District. These are people and moments in our history that we cannot afford to forget as a nation, and I pray we never do.

As we celebrate Veterans Day, I encourage you to remember those who have served. If you know a veteran, take a moment to hear their story and share your gratitude for their service. I am extremely thankful for the members of our Armed Forces past and present and I also want to express my sincerest appreciation to our military families. They, too, have made countless, and often unrecognized, sacrifices.

For generations, our veterans have made sacrifice after sacrifice so that we could live freely. I ask that you continue to keep these brave Americans in your thoughts and prayers not just during this time of year, but every day. We pay tribute to those who have made our nation great, strong, and most importantly – free.

Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth District in Congress.

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