From the war for Independence to the current war against violent extremists, brave men and women of this nation time and again have answered the call to defend and protect our freedoms. They have inspired us with their courage, professionalism, and patriotism. Each and every one of them swore an oath upon entering the service.
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the uniform code of Military justice. So help me God.”
This oath embodies the sense of duty that each soldier and veteran carries. It is the reason why service members do what they do each and every day. To uphold this oath soldiers must protect us with guns, with planes, and with ships - but most of all they must protect us with their lives.
As I look back from the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan to the wars of history, I often wonder about the legacy of our great nation when it comes to caring for our soldiers upon their return home. For a grateful nation to be truly great, it must honor the sacrifices of its soldiers, and meet the pressing needs of our returning service members. Each of us shares in that legacy in some way or another. As a U.S. Congressman it is my goal to represent our soldiers, veterans, military families, and to honor those that were lost to us.
During National Military Appreciation Month, which encompasses Memorial Day, V-E Day (May 8), and Armed Forces Day (May 16), it is a time of remembrance for our fallen soldiers and a time to renew our commitment to the veterans of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is also a good opportunity to highlight some important legislation that has recently passed the House of Representatives to help honor our military and veterans, and some additional resources that are available to them.
Veterans’ And The Stimulus Package.
The stimulus package provided a $1.4 billion increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs for maintenance at VA medical facilities, construction of veterans’ extended care facilities, and veteran cemetery repairs. The bill also provided economic stimulus payments of $250 to disabled veterans receiving VA compensation or a pension.
Supplemental Appropriations Bill For Iraq and Afghanistan Passed by the House of Representatives. The 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill recognizes the sacrifices of our troops and the hardships military families face by continuing to invest in improving military healthcare and family services. To help improve military healthcare, among several other items, the bill provides:
* Over $1 billion for the Defense Health Program to supply medical and dental services to U.S. forces and their family members as they support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
* $1.1 billion for hospital construction to replace hospitals that do not meet current standards for medical care. With the funds in this bill, Congress will have provided an additional investment of $3.3 billion in military hospitals since last year.
* $488 million for wounded warrior facilities to help soldiers wounded in combat recover and remain on active duty or transition to civilian life and support their families. The funds will allow for the construction of seven new complexes, bringing the total around the country to 16.
Veterans’ Employment Website -
Military Order of the Purple Heart. MOPH recently announced the launch of a new web site, www.VetsJobs.net, specifically designed to assist veterans in obtaining federal employment. Information is also available at the web site concerning veterans’ preference and includes links to USAJOBS, the official web site for federal jobs, State Employment Service, Department of Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management.
The New GI Bill For the 21st Century
Last year Congress enacted the new GI Bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The measure provides up to four years of education benefits at a college or university for individuals with at least 90 days of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001 who have been honorably discharged. The full measure takes effect on August 1st. However, beginning on May 1st veterans can apply for a certificate of eligibility for the new benefits, and can gather additional information regarding the program’s requirements and benefits, at the VA website https://www.gibill.va.gov/.
Congressman Dan Boren was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District in 2004. He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Natural Resources Committee.