Last weekend, countless grateful citizens came together at the LZ Lambeau event to offer Wisconsin's Vietnam War veterans an official Welcome Home. The Lambeau Field ceremonies were thoughtful and rewarding in every way for those who have served in harms way, for families who lost loved ones and for soldiers who wished to share their personal journeys with their comrades from decades past.
This Memorial Day, we will come together again to join in celebrating the lives of those who have given their full measure in the defense of our nation and our way of life.
As one nation under God, we believe in keeping the memories of our fallen soldiers alive, especially during annual Memorial Day celebrations. This year, let us also reflect upon the Four Essential Freedoms these heroes gave their lives to protect, the ones President Franklin Roosevelt focused the free world upon a generation ago: freedom of speech, freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, freedom from want, and freedom from fear - everywhere in the world.
We may be going through tough economic times, but we still have these four freedoms -- making us all the luckiest people on Earth.
And make no mistake - these essential freedoms are ours for only as long as we can protect them, and that is why I have worked so hard to protect the backs of all veterans who have served with honor, courage and incredible skill. They had our backs in harms way, and we shall always care for theirs when they return.
It was President Lincoln who promised "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan." This pledge is all of ours today and forevermore. I also made that pledge as a physician while serving in VA hospitals. We have long made the health of our veterans a priority, but as we begin to care for the nearly 32,000 U.S. troops wounded in Iraq, and over 5,700 in Afghanistan, we must place an emphasis on improving the VA health system to meet their needs.
I fought to ensure veterans in Northeast Wisconsin receive the highest quality care they need and deserve closer to home. Soon, we will move one step closer to meeting the needs of our heroes when we break ground on the Milo C. Huempfner Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Green Bay.
Working together, we also helped to deliver jobs to unemployed Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans; a new 21st Century G.I. Bill to help pay for college and acquire critical skills necessary to compete for higher-wage jobs; an extension of the homebuyer tax credit; and Family Medical Leave for the family members of soldiers wounded in combat.
This Memorial Day, as we remember all who have fallen, we also renew our commitment to care for our heroes still in need.