(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement in honor of Veterans Day.
“Today is a very special day in America. On this day, we celebrate and honor the great sacrifices our veterans have made for each of us. It is because of their sacrifice that we are a free people; that we enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship; that just last week we democratically and freely elected – as we do every four years – a president of the United States. But as we spend time today reflecting on, and giving thanks for, the sacrifices made by those who have served, let us also reflect on the shared duty we owe to our nation’s veterans.
“Today is a day to ask ourselves whether we have kept faith with our veterans; whether we are keeping the promises we made to them as a nation when they signed up to serve. Today is a day to take stock of where we have fallen short in delivering the care and benefits our veterans earned; to take stock of what our veterans need today and what they will need tomorrow; and to ask – what more can we do to ensure our veterans can easily access the care and benefits they deserve?
“The answer to each of these questions is that we have more work to do. That is why I was proud the President signed my VOW to Hire Heroes legislation into law late last year. Thanks to this legislation, we’ve been able to take a real, concrete step toward putting our veterans back to work. But it is only that – a first step. The next step must be building partnerships with businesses across the country to hire our nation’s heroes.
“Yet even as we work to build these partnerships, we face another critical challenge as thousands of our veterans begin their transition home. It is a challenge we are all too familiar with, which is ensuring timely access to top quality mental health care. Not every veteran will be affected by these invisible wounds. But when a servicemember or a veteran has the courage to stand up and ask for help, VA and DoD must be there. They must be there with not only timely access to care, but also the right type of care.
“Challenges like PTSD or depression are natural responses to some of the most stressful events a person can experience. And we will do everything possible to ensure that those affected by these illnesses can get help, can get better, and can get back to their lives. At the end of the day, the only way that we will be able to ease the difficult transition home for these men and women is by working together – with private and public partnerships, with investments in unique new programs, with unified encouragement to seek mental health care and overcome stigmas, and very importantly, with a plan to get these veterans back to work. Our servicemembers and veterans have done everything we have asked of them. While they don’t ask much in return, surely we can – and must – do better on their behalf.
“As we celebrate the many sacrifices and accomplishments of veterans across the country today, we must also remember the many veterans who have been impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Some have been displaced from their homes. Others may have difficulty reaching their normal VA medical facility. Some who rely on their VA compensation and pension benefits to make ends meet are experiencing difficulties receiving their checks as a result of the hurricane. So while we keep those affected in our thoughts and our prayers, I would encourage everyone to reach out to your local veteran service organizations to see what you can do to help. The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America – each of these organizations, and others, is a resource for veterans affected by Hurricane Sandy.”