By Congressman Diane Black
I will never forget the day that I watched my first born son, Steve, leave home to serve aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in Operation Desert Storm. I was fiercely proud of his willingness to serve his country but, like any mother, anxiously awaited his return and prayed each night for safety while he remained in harm’s way. Thankfully, our prayers were answered when Steve returned to us thirteen months later, joining the ranks of my husband, my father, my brother, and more than 525,000 Tennesseans as a proud military veteran.
On Monday, we will honor these brave Americans with the celebration of Veterans Day. For many of us, this may mean a day off from school or work—perhaps spent at a local parade or gathering with family and friends; but I hope wherever we are, we will pause to collectively give thanks for the brave men and women who have boldly answered the call to serve the country that they love and secure the blessings of liberty for future generations.
Last month, I had the opportunity to meet 13 World War II veterans from Tennessee’s 6th district on an “honor flight” visit to Washington D.C. These men traveled long distances to visit the nation’s capital city, some for the first time. Many arrived in wheelchairs and walkers—a reminder of the time that has passed since the allied victory nearly 70 years ago—but each of their eyes lit up at the sight of the memorials built in their honor. Before the end of our time together, I was able to speak individually with each one of them, give them a hug, and thank them for their patriotism, promising that their sacrifices would not soon be forgotten.
In Congress, I am striving to make good on that promise by supporting legislation to provide veterans with education benefits and jobs training, helping to restore military pay and funding for survivor benefits during the recent government shutdown, and, most recently, voting to pass bipartisan legislation to finally address the Veterans Administration’s unacceptable disability claims backlog. Knowing that the best way to get answers is to go straight to the top, I also asked Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to work with my office in a more efficient manner to serve veterans in our community.
America’s veterans have given our country the very best they have to offer and they deserve the same in return. The care of our veterans is not a Republican value or a Democrat value, it is an American value—one that must always rise above politics and partisanship. This Veterans Day, join me in thanking our veterans for their service, in praying for those who continue fighting to protect the freedoms we hold dear, and in teaching our children and grandchildren to do the same, lest we ever forget.