Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, delivered remarks at a Veterans Day event in Federal Way, Washington in which city officials honorarily renamed the downtown corridor "Veterans Way" and erected a 60-foot flagpole to recognize the service and sacrifice of local veterans.
"So as we raise our great flag here today, and as Federal Way takes this step to rename this street to show deep gratitude and honor to our veterans, let us all join together in reaffirming the promise we’ve made to the men and women who answered the call of duty," said Senator Murray. "And let us recommit to working each and every day, not just on the Eleventh of November, to fulfill that promise, no matter what it takes."
Senator Murray was joined in speaking at the event by Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, Federal Way City Councilman Bob Celski, Rich Garmong of King County Veteran’s Program, and Tom Leonard of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:
"Thank you Mayor Ferrell for that kind introduction. And thank you to the City of Federal Way for inviting me to be part of this most important day of remembrance and reflection.
"I am so proud to represent a state that is willing to do whatever it takes to support our men and women in uniform, who are also our neighbors, family, and friends. I’m proud to represent this state at what I believe has been really a critical decade in the treatment of our nation’s veterans. It’s a time when our older veterans population are increasingly relying on VA care. But it is also a pivotal point for an entire generation of post 9/11 veterans who after more than a decade of repeated deployments, stress on their family and personal relationships, and coping with the visible and invisible wounds of war, have been facing a challenging transition home. And it’s a challenge that all of us have been tasked with meeting.
"As you know, it’s no secret that back in the 'other Washington' there are some serious differences when it comes to many of the policies impacting our families most. But one issue that brings this country together—one area that there truly should never be a partisan divide on—is supporting our nation’s heroes. It brings us together because the American people understand that we have all made a promise to those who have signed up to serve. And we owe it to them to deliver. It’s a promise I have fought to keep as the daughter of a World War II veteran. A promise I know so many of you have openly embraced.
"And as we usher in a new Congress next year, it will be more important than ever that we continue working together – across party lines – to put our veterans and their families first because we are nearing the end of a conflict that tested us as a nation, but one that also showed the courage and strength of our veterans. These are the moments that in the past we have responded to well – such as in the era that built the greatest generation. And ones where, sadly, our nation has stumbled.
"We are at a defining moment in the history of how we treat our veterans. For many of us - particularly those who grew up with the Vietnam War - it’s clear we stand perilously close to repeating some of the same mistakes of the past. But I am working every day to avoid that.
"The bipartisan VA reforms Congress passed in August are already helping to alleviate the long waits for care at VA hospitals across the country. These reforms, and the changes being made here in the Puget Sound, are important steps toward addressing the many issues we know exist within the VA system -- but they cannot be the final steps. There are still many other serious challenges we must work together to address – both Democrats and Republicans -- on behalf of our nation’s heroes.
"Twenty-two veterans still take their own lives each day. Thousands of veterans are alone, coping with sexual assault. And while the VA has made commendable progress, it will be an uphill battle as we work to eliminate veterans homelessness and the claims backlog. But like all of you here today, I believe that when it comes to caring for our nation’s heroes, we cannot accept anything less than excellence.
"So as we raise our great flag here today—and as Federal Way takes this step to rename this street to show deep gratitude and honor to our veterans -- let us all join together in reaffirming the promise we’ve made to the men and women who answered the call of duty. And let us recommit to working each and every day – not just on the Eleventh of November – to fulfill that promise, no matter what it takes. So I am proud to be your partner in that fight in the U.S. Senate. And I am so grateful for the unwavering support this community has provided.
"So once again, I’d like to thank Mayor Ferrell and the City of Federal Way. I am honored to be here with you today."