Our American military men and women represent the very best of this country. They have defended us at home, fought for us abroad, endured separation from their families and experienced unbelievable hardship in their service to America.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans and their families for the sacrifice they have made to ensure our liberty. That sacrifice has often manifested itself in disabling injuries and postponed education and economic opportunity. We must ensure that they receive the finest in health care and the ability to live the American dream.
In the last few years strides have been made on veterans' issues. VA hospitals are receiving greater scrutiny, and Congress has addressed the issue of concurrent receipt of relief for those veterans who left the service because of disability before reaching retirement.
But this is still not enough. Last year, nearly 22 percent of young veterans between the ages of 18-24 were unemployed.
A recent surge in veteran suicides is also of great concern. Of the 30,000 suicides in America last year, 20 percent were veterans. We are failing our veterans if these men and women believe suicide is their only choice. The cost of service is high, and we need to make sure veterans know their government has not abandoned them. They are not alone.