Honoring our nation’s veterans


This Veterans Day we paid tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans.  With over two million veterans in California alone, we have a duty to the men and women who defended our nation to ensure that they have access to the services they deserve.  That is why I recently voted to provide $76.5 billion in the coming year for programs to help our veterans, active duty military personnel, as well as the Army and Air National Guard.  This includes housing programs for military personnel and their families and assistance for homeless veterans.

During these challenging times, Congress must keep working to get our economy back on track.  The House of Representatives recently approved, with my support, legislation to help unemployed veterans who participate in employment training programs.  For information on jobs available to veterans, please visit http://hirevetsfirst.dol.gov/.  Veterans seeking additional assistance may contact the VA at (800) 827-1000 or visit the VA’s website at www.va.gov.  They can also contact my office at (909) 575-6226.

It is also important that we continue to improve services for veterans.  Earlier this year, I supported increased VA disability compensation rates for veterans with service-connected disabilities and expanded healthcare options by allowing veterans to be reimbursed for emergency treatment in a non-VA facility.  In addition, I opposed efforts to bill veterans’ private insurance plans for care related to service-connected injuries and will continue to fight for disability benefits, as well as protecting TRICARE for our veterans.

In addition to taking care of our veterans, we also need to learn from them.  That is why for the past several years, I’ve been proud to help veterans in our communities participate in the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress (LOC) sponsored project aimed at recording for posterity the memories and first hand materials of veterans from their combat experiences.  We spoke to veterans from World War II to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan about their service.  Their memories and artifacts will be housed at the LOC for the benefit of future generations.

We also have veterans here in our own communities that can teach us so much.  Veterans like Second Lieutenant Melvin E. Hodell, Army Air Forces (Ret.) of Upland.  Mr. Hodell flew during the Hump Airlift over China at the close of World War II.  I was honored to present him with a long overdue Distinguished Flying Cross this past summer.  His grandson is now in the Navy, continuing a strong military tradition.

As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, we should all take a moment to think of the brave men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed so much to protect and defend this grateful nation.