In November 1919, President Wilson commemorated the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allies which officially ended World War I. Wilson proclaimed that day, November 11, 1918, as "Armistice Day" and designated it as a day of celebration. Following World War II, President Eisenhower authorized the change of the word "Armistice" to "Veterans," seeing fit to honor all those who had served in our nation's Armed Forces, not only those who fought in World War I. Since then, Veterans Day has been celebrated every November 11 - a day of honor for all American veterans.
This year we once again honor our men and women in uniform, both actively serving and those who have served, for their bravery, patriotism and sacrifice on behalf of our nation. Veterans Day offers us the opportunity to thank them for their service and honor their courage and citizenship. I ask you to join me on this day in remembering the brave men and women who have served our country throughout its history.
Tens of millions of Americans have proudly served the United States over the past century, and hundreds of thousands have sacrificed their lives in the defense of freedom throughout the world. Veterans Day holds a special importance at this point in our national history as thousands of men and women serve on our behalf in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries throughout the world. Whether they wear the uniform of a soldier, an airman, a sailor, a coast guardsmen or a Marine, all deserve our respect, honor and gratitude.
Since I first came to Congress in 1999, I have helped to nearly double spending for veterans' health care and overall veterans spending. For example, the current Veterans Administration budget called for a record $80 billion dollars. To put this in perspective, just over ten years ago the budget for the VA was only $38.1 billion. This year I have continued my work on behalf of America's veterans, co-sponsoring and helping pass through the U.S. Senate a resolution designating the week of November 11 through November 17, 2007 as National Veterans Awareness Week. I have also co-sponsored bills that would create a tax deduction for TRICARE premiums and allow concurrent receipt of both retirement and disability pay, and I am working to help move these bills through the legislative process.
As individuals, we thank those veterans close to us for their service. Brothers, husbands, wives, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers - we are grateful to all. As Americans, we will continue to honor their patriotism and their willingness to risk so much for the principles on which our country was founded. We can never fully repay them the debt we owe, but we can commit ourselves to honoring their service and ensuring that each and every one of them receives the benefits and care that they have so bravely earned.
Louisiana is home to more than 400,000 veterans and houses Army, Navy and Air Force bases; several Air and Army National Guard units and the headquarters of the Marine Forces Reserve. This Veterans Day, we stand with our family, friends, neighbors and fellow Louisianans to salute their service. And in doing so, we not only honor them but those who served before them.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can ensure that our veterans receive all the honor and respect that they deserve. Please contact me on this or any other federal matter at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.