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by U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings 11/11/11

Today, our nation will honor America's 23 million veterans and take a moment to remember those who have served and those who have passed on. Whether by placing flags at cemeteries, attending local Veterans Day parades, or simply personally thanking and acknowledging a veteran's service, America pays annual tribute to the men and women who put on the uniform and defend our nation in times of war and peace.

More than 100 years ago, President Teddy Roosevelt spoke to the residents of Springfield, Illinois about how vital it was for the government to keep its commitment to those who fought for our nation, our veterans. He said that, "A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have." That is why I support giving our veterans and their families the resources they need while they serve and as they transition out of military service.

There are many ways America shows its appreciation and gratitude to our veterans. This Veterans Day, I want to highlight two bills that I believe will improve the quality of life and opportunity for those men and women who served our country with honor and distinction and will help them successfully transition to the private sector.

First is the a bill to increase the cost of living adjustment for veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities which passed the Senate and House of Representatives with my support. Although Congress has passed a cost of living adjustment every year for veterans since 1976, there has not been an increase in the last few years. This has been sent to President Obama and is expected to be signed into law.

Second is a bill that will open up employment opportunities for veterans in the private sector. As a nation, we are seeing unacceptably high unemployment and there are currently over one million veterans looking for work. With my support the House of Representatives recently passed the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act to create and modify programs that provide employment and training services to veterans and service members separating from active duty. As a country, we must break down the barriers to job creation in the private sector so those who have defended our nation have the opportunity to be successful when they have completed their service.

Unfortunately, I often hear from veterans who are having problems with their veterans benefits. If you or a family member is a veteran and needs assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my local office at 509-543-9396 and a staff member will be happy to assist you.

Veterans Day gives all Americans the chance to reflect on the selfless service and unbending patriotism of those who have worn our nationís military uniform. Because of their valor and willingness to stand in harmís way to protect their fellow citizens, liberty and democracy stand strong in the United States. Iím humbled to join all Washingtonians in honoring our brave veterans and thanking them for answering the call to serve.

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