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Veterans Owed Best Possible Assistance
With large numbers of Veterans returning home after service in conflicts involving Iraq and Afghanistan, Rahall has championed legislation to provide educational assistance and employment opportunities for returning Veterans who are striving to successfully reenter civilian life.
Recognizing Veterans’ needs, he has supported legislation to strengthen and improve the Wounded Warriors Act, as well as the “Post-9/11 GI Bill,” in an effort to provide educational assistance and employment opportunities for returning veterans. He also supported the Hiring Heroes Act, which was enacted into law last year, to provide tax credits for employers who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.
“I am proud of the work I have been able to do for Veterans and military families in southern West Virginia. These men and women have donned uniforms and put themselves in harm’s way for us. They have fought to preserve our freedoms and secure our futures. We owe our Veterans so much, the least of which being the assistance they were promised in identifying careers and job opportunities that align with the skills they learned in the military. We can and should be doing more to address the high rate of unemployment amongst our Veterans, and I intend to continue working with our State’s educational institutions and local businesses to help ensure that our Veterans have every career and educational opportunity possible when they return home,” said Rahall.
Rahall’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
Remarks U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall
Annual Veterans’ and Businessmen’s Luncheon
National Guard Armory
Monday, November 12, 2012; 1:00pm
With so much division in our country, it is good to see so many are coming together to work for the common goal of Reconnecting McDowell. Yes, McDowell has had its full share of challenges, but the one thing that doesn’t need any reconnection in this county is the respect and honor, the dignity and devotion we pay to our Veterans. That connection is as strong as ever.
In fact, there is a song about it. Some of you may have heard David Grubb’s song, “Watch ‘Ol Glory Fly.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to sing, but I would like to recite a few lines for you. It’s about a Veteran who has seen better days, but people rarely see him around town except on one day of the year. Here it goes:
“His hair was long and turning gray, his body bent and lean
In his mind he still had scars, from all the things he'd seen….
He always made his way to town, every Veterans Day….
And we still have a big parade, every Veterans Day
To honor those who give their all, and sacrifices made
So let's respect the memories, of those who fight and die
Lay your hand upon your heart, and watch Ol' Glory fly.”
I don’t have to tell anyone in this room that you can count on Welch having a Veteran’s Day Parade. It’s more than tradition. It’s more than an institution. It’s as sure as the morning’s sunrise.
And the patriotism of our Veterans doesn’t end at sunset. Long after you muster out, you are the first to line up and volunteer in your town. When you contribute to your community and strengthen it, you strengthen our Nation.
From towns born of mining, to our state born of war, to a nation under God, West Virginia’s Veterans symbolize the depth of human giving to the height of the Almighty’s compassion. One word best describes our Veterans: sacrifice. And from your many sacrifices flow so many of our blessings of freedom.
We just had a national election – no one got rounded up and sent to prison, no shots were fired, no bombs fell. That’s thanks to our Veterans.
When the pastor prayed, he didn’t ask permission from Charleston or Washington – he is answerable for his prayers to only one power and it’s not on this Earth. Thanks to our Veterans
No government agency forced people onto the streets of Welch and made them watch a parade or forbade us from meeting here. Thanks to our Veterans.
No one told any of us what we could or could not say here today. Thanks, again, to our Veterans.
But while their burdens have been heavy, and their continuing contributions worth their weight in gold, the republic can’t rest on our Veteran’s shoulders alone. This Nation is unstoppable when we all push and push in the same direction.
There is no better, more appropriate place to begin than trying to repay our Veterans for their selfless service and many sacrifices. That is why this Veteran’s Day we should resolve that our Veteran’s physical and mental health must remain a national priority.
We should resolve that while we equip our men and women with the latest and safest resources on the battlefield, we also provide our Veterans with the best possible educational resources and transitional assistance when they return home. The G.I. Bill helped fuel this nation’s economy more than anything the Congress had done previously. The new G.I. Bill holds great promise for our returning troops.
We should resolve to improve and expand access to the quality health care our Veterans deserve. I realize how having to travel long distances to Beckley and across the border into Virginia can create insurmountable hurdles for Veterans seeking quality care. You deserve a nearby VA clinic and I am exploring every option in support of one. I have been communicating directly with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in order to press that point. I also am urging the VA to collaborate with local community facilities in offering health care services, so that veterans have access to care at a location that is close by, which will cut down on travel time and spare them added stress.
We should resolve that when we TALK of family values, we also ACT to aid our Veterans. In this time of budget austerity, you can be sure that I will fight hard against cuts that would harm our active-duty personnel, military retirees, and Veterans.
One of America’s great generals found a poignant truth in the words, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Well, time waits on no man, and the last Veteran from World War I passed from this Earth earlier this year. We are losing our World War II Veterans at a rate of 680 a day.
We cannot allow the service and sacrifice of so many to just fade away. It remains for us and demands from us our attention and duty to not let our Veterans or their memories to just fade away.
One hundred forty-nine years ago this November 19th, a few months after he had signed the State of West Virginia into existence, President Abraham Lincoln travelled to the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to dedicate a new National Cemetery. There he would call on a war torn nation to rededicate itself to a new birth of freedom.
On this Veterans Day 2012, let us rededicate ourselves to that same sacred cause for which so many in this nation have sacrificed their all. Let us begin by taking up the cause of those who served beneath Old Glory, and by His grace were able to live another day. We, as a Nation, owe them a debt that can never be repaid.
Let us reconnect this county to this nation; that just like the strongest chain, this nation is only as strong as its weakest link. In all this knowing that here on Earth, God’s work truly must be our own.