Thanking Those Who Serve
For the freedoms we cherish and our security from foreign threats, it’s our men and women in uniform – both past and present – who we owe a debt of gratitude.It’s a question we often hear at Thanksgiving: what are you thankful for? Whether you’re sitting down with loved ones over a meal, gathering in a place of worship, or watching your football team play with a leftover turkey sandwich in hand, we have a great deal to be thankful for as Americans. For the freedoms we cherish and our security from foreign threats, it’s our men and women in uniform – both past and present – who we owe a debt of gratitude.
Part of saying thank you to our Armed Forces is ensuring they have the tools needed to protect our country and themselves. Today, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines confront threats on numerous fronts, and they are often asked to do more with less. It is the responsibility of Congress to provide them with the appropriate resources. After working through differences between House and Senate legislation in a conference committee, the House of Representatives recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense, with overwhelming bipartisan support.
As a member of the conference committee, I supported this bill to set the stage for making necessary investments to rebuild our military strength. The NDAA authorizes funding to help the military restore aging infrastructure ranging from hospitals to runways and hangars, and reforms Pentagon buying practices by providing increased oversight of contracts. It also includes the largest pay raise for our troops in eight years. Additionally, the NDAA makes the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance program, a special life insurance program benefiting the spouses and dependents of our men and women in uniform, permanent. These payments are made to more than 60,000 Americans whose military spouse has passed away, either during active duty or after their retirement from military service.
Earlier this month, the House passed more than a dozen bills to make sure our veterans receive the service, care, and respect they deserve. These bills deal with a variety of topics, including protecting veterans’ finances, ensuring access to organ transplants, and providing access to mental health care. One of these bills, the Veterans Crisis Line Study Act, calls on the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study to determine if the Veterans Crisis Line is functioning effectively. It’s reported that more than 20 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day. The Veterans Crisis Line is an important resource for those in need of help, and it is critical that it provide veterans in crisis with the resources they need.
As we observe this season of thanksgiving, I hope you’ll join me in saying thank you to America’s heroes and the families they leave behind during the holidays. Congress can do its part by getting this legislation signed into law, but we all have a role in thanking our troops and the veterans who have served the cause of freedom for generations. For the blessing it is to live in this great country and to represent Virginia’s Sixth District, I say thank you.