Issue Position: Veterans
From the Greatest Generation, to those who are bravely serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the men and women of the armed services have made great personal sacrifices to serve our nation. I believe that it is of utmost importance that we keep the promises made to our nation's veterans and fully-fund over veteran programs.
Unfortunately, veterans' benefits have been chronically underfunded in recent years, causing large backlogs and inconsistent care. That is why in 2007, I fought for a $7 billion increase in veterans funding, the single largest increase in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration. This funding will help ensure that Wisconsin's 445,000 veterans receive the high-quality care that they deserve - and have earned.
This funding increase will not only help our existing veterans, but also those new veterans - many of whom are suffering from psychological injuries we can't see. That is why I proudly supported significant new funding to address the needs of veterans coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, including counseling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and expanded Traumatic Brain Injury care.
Recording Their Sacrifices
A number of years ago, I was at a family picnic in La Crosse with my father, uncle, and two sons. For the first time, my father and uncle started talking about their service in World War II and the Korean War. I knew my two boys were too young to remember the conversation, but I wanted them to know of the heroism and sacrifice of their grandfather and his brother. I ran into the house and got the family video camera.
I am thankful that I was able to record that conversation. Unfortunately, almost 1,700 veterans pass away each day, taking with them their stories of sacrifice and courage. That is why in 2000, I authored legislation to start the Veterans History Project (VHP). Using volunteers, the VHP has collected thousands of oral histories, forever archiving them at the Library of Congress for future generations.
The Veterans History Project had a huge year in 2007, thanks to the help of renown documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns. I was so pleased to have him as a partner in promoting VHP in conjunction with his recent documentary about World War II, The War. His film does a great service to World War II veterans by telling this story, but I know that the veterans themselves can tell us so much more. I encourage all Wisconsin veterans and their families to participate in VHP, and have their wartime experiences preserved for future generations.