Michigan is home to 700,000 veterans who have selflessly answered the call of duty for our country.
This Veterans Day, Michigan families honor these brave men and women for their sacrifice at events all across our state. I will be observing this Veterans Day at a commemorative ceremony at Fort Custer National Cemetery and a Veteran's Day Remembrance Dinner in Frankenmuth. This year, I also have the great honor of presenting a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Air Medal to one of Michigan's veterans for his bravery while serving in Vietnam, and welcoming 35 World War II veterans being flown from Michigan to Washington DC by Honor Flight Network to visit the World War II Memorial.
Also happening around this Veterans Day is the grand opening of the Cheboygan County Department of Veteran Affairs Health Clinic in Mackinaw City. The Cheboygan Clinic is one of a number of new veterans' community health clinics opening across the state. In 2008, over 4,000 citizens in the Cheboygan community signed a petition asking for this clinic. This opening is especially exciting since I had the privilege to personally present those petitions to the Secretary of the VA.
The opening of new VA health clinics have been a top priority of mine. It is simply unacceptable that veterans would have to drive hundreds of miles to receive basic health care services. In the past four years, new clinics have also opened in Alpena, Bad Axe, Clare and Cadillac- with a new clinic opening in Grayling in late 2012 or early 2013.
After finishing their combat tours, our veterans face a second tour of duty-a tour that requires an often complicated and difficult transition back into civilian society. They have earned the right to an affordable education that will give them the skills they need to reenter the workforce.
New changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, signed into law in 2008 as the largest investment in veterans' education benefits since World War II, will provide additional educational benefits to our veterans. While this will go a long way in addressing the high unemployment rate among our veterans, especially service members returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is more work to be done. For that reason, I am leading the charge to help our returning service men and women get jobs. New legislation that we passed in the Senate yesterday will cut taxes for business that hire veterans who are out of work through no fault of their own while also expanding job training opportunities. After serving our country honorably, all veterans deserve the chance to earn a paycheck and support their families.
This Veterans Day, let's reflect on the sacrifices that our brave men and women have made in the name of preserving our freedom. Our veterans have always been there for us, and we must always remember to keep our promise to be there for them.