On Saturday, I was privileged to join Major General Glenn Rieth, Governor Jon Corzine, and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez at Fort Dix for a Farewell Salute to the almost 3000 New Jersey Warriors of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
These brave servicemen and women will soon depart for Fort Bliss, Texas for two months of intense training before leaving the U.S. to spend nine months in Iraq. This is a significant moment in New Jersey's historythese troops are part of the largest deployment of New Jersey National Guard troops since World War II.
As I spoke with some of the men and women from the Fifth District who will soon go overseas, I reminded them that my staff and I are ready to assist them and their families before, during, and after deployment. I have also introduced legislation, the Strengthening America's Military Families Act, which would ease some of the financial burdens these military families face. This small tax exemption in no way compares to the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made for our enjoyed freedoms and security, but I strongly believe this bill would provide much needed relief for many of our military families.
I am so very proud of the Members of our Armed Services, and I am very proud to have the privilege of representing them in Congress. I salute our troops and the families that stand with them in serving our great nation.
Member of Congress
Last week, I joined Shelley Berkley (NV-D), Jeb Hensarling (TX-R), and Eliot Engel (NY-D) in sending a letter to President Bush and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad, urging them to stand up for Israel at the United Nations.
The United States assumed the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council on June 1. Consequently, this month provides the U.S. with an opportunity to support Israel, especially if Israel faces further criticism for retaliating against rocket attacks.
This year, terrorists have fired hundreds of rockets and mortar shells at Israeli communities like Sderot and Ashkelon. Residents of these areas have suffered death, injury, post-traumatic stress, and property damage. The unprovoked attacks have disrupted the routines of Israelis and forced them to confront fear daily.
In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 404-1-4, my resolution (H.Res. 951) condemning the ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza. The recent bi-partisan letter requested President Bush and Ambassador Khalilzad to communicate the principles contained in H.Res. 951 to the nations and entities involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
I will continue working to ensure that these violations of human rights are not overlooked. Despite repeated attacks, Israel has continued to extend economic and humanitarian aid to its neighbors. The U.S. should recognize Israel's restraint and generosity.
I am amazed that the United Nations has ignored the ongoing rocket attacks, while criticizing Israel's duty to protect its citizens. It is critical that we stand with Israel and denounce the terrorists who reject attempts to live in peace. As my resolution and letter state, the U.S. must defend "the sovereign right of the Government of Israel to defend its territory against attacks."