Honoring America’s Promise to Our Veterans

I rise today
in support of our Nation’s veterans and in support of their families.

Ninety years
ago tomorrow, our nation marked the very first Armistice Day in recognition of
the end of World War I.  In 1954,
Armistice Day became Veterans Day, and every year since, we have marked the
occasion through ceremonies, pageants, parades, and other events designed to
honor the men and women who have served this nation so selflessly in the Armed
Forces.  I encourage all Americans to use
the opportunity of Veterans Day to let those around you who have served our nation,
those in your community, to know how thankful we are for their contributions.

I know that
across our nation there will be remembrances of those we have lost and honors
to those who have served in the past or who are serving today, but we can and
should do more to honor our nation’s veterans.  We should make sure they have access to the
health care that we have promised.  We
should make sure their caregivers are given the support they need to assist our
wounded warriors.  We should expand
health services for female veterans.  We
should do more for veterans in hard-to-reach rural areas.  We should increase our mental health services
for veterans because injuries to the brain deserve the same attention as
injuries to the body.

programs – access to health care, support to caregivers, services for female
veterans, services to rural veterans, improved mental health services – are all
included in the bills that have been put into the veteran’s package – the
Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009.  I have cosponsored a number of these bills
and will passionately support this package. Our service members stand up for
America when on duty.  America must stand
up for our service members when they return home.

legislation before us has wide bipartisan support.  It has been endorsed by organizations,
including the Disabled American Veterans and the Paralyzed Veterans of
America.  It has been endorsed by the
American Legion.  It has been endorsed by
the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  It has been endorsed by the Veterans of
Foreign Wars.  It has been endorsed by
the Wounded Warrior Project.  Each of
these groups wants to see a vote on this omnibus package of support for our veterans
and to see that vote happen now.  But we
in the Senate are not here debating this package; we are not here preparing to
vote on this bill because a single Senator has objected to having an up-or-down
vote.  Our veterans deserve to have this
chamber debate this bill.  They deserve
to have this chamber vote up or down on this bill.

Tomorrow we
will honor our veterans through ceremonies across this nation.  But we should do more than simply honor our
veterans; we should act to stand up for our veterans.  We need to stand with them and their families
as they have stood up for us when on duty.  We should move expeditiously, and I encourage
all Senators to support the effort to quickly have this bill before us for a
debate and an up-and-down vote.