Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs Annual Memorial Day Services
Today, as we officially celebrate Memorial Day here in Delaware, we remember the hundreds of thousands of men and women over many generations who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There are two words - two simple words - that we don't say enough but can never really be said enough, for the sacrifice that we are all here today to acknowledge: thank you.
Thank you to all who have laid down their lives in defense of our country. Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice and for your willingness to do so, so that our country can remain free and strong and a beacon of liberty in this world.
Thank you to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, and marines who did all they could to protect their comrades and who ultimately face the reality of loss and many times the guilt for having survived themselves.
Thank you to all the mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters and children of our fallen warriors for supporting their loved ones, for giving them to our country and for the hurt that comes when their loved one doesn't return home.
Thank you to the veterans service organizations who provide support to the families of our fallen as well as our wounded who have returned.
In addition to acknowledging the sacrifice of our fallen warriors with a simple thank you, we can also honor their service by making sure we keep our commitments to their brothers and sisters in uniform who return home. After nearly seven years of non-stop war, with many of our soldiers on their second, third, or fourth deployment, I have made a personal commitment to keep the pressure on this Administration - every single day - to change course in Iraq and bring our troops home as soon as possible.
Once our troops are safely back home, however, we have a moral obligation to ensure that we live up to our commitment to them. We must ensure that there are proper mental health services for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as for those who are suffering from PTSD from previous conflicts. We need to make sure that we have a system in place to properly screen for the signature injury of these wars - traumatic brain injury - and provide needed care when symptoms flair up months or years later. We need to ensure that disabled veterans have the means to specially adapt their car and their homes to accommodate their physical challenges. And we need to ensure that our returning veterans have the ability to pay the full cost of a college education, so they have unfettered access to the higher education they deferred to serve their country.
Often times, we overlook the physical, emotional, and financial sacrifice that every member of the military makes when they leave the United States to fight on foreign soil. Our soldiers put their lives on the line for our families; an affordable education is not too much to ask in return. It is time to recognize the bravery and sacrifices of this generation of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. We owe them nothing less than the educational benefits offered the Greatest Generation after World War II.
To date, 1,986 Delaware Guard and Reserve members have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. There are 664 deployed as we sit here today. The fact is, without their selfless bravery, we would not be the great country we are today. I cannot express how indebted I feel to each and every one of these individuals - both those who are still with us as well as those we have lost in service to our country.