As I travel throughout western Minnesota, I often have the opportunity to sit down with veterans who have served our country, and I'm always honored to hear their stories and garner some wisdom from them.
This Veterans Day, we renew our commitment to keep our promises to our nation's 23 million veterans, including the 51,000 veterans here in Minnesota's 7th Congressional District. These veterans and their families have earned our respect for their sacrifice and service.
In Congress, we are focused on taking major steps to help our men and women in uniform when they come home. Over the last four years, we:
* Enacted the new Post 9-11 GI Bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education, that has already allowed over 600,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to afford college, just like after World War II, along with tax incentives for hiring to expand job opportunities for returning soldiers.
* Strengthened health care for more than 5 million veterans, with a historic commitment -- including the largest single increase in the history of the VA -- for more doctors and nurses, better access for rural veterans, and expanded efforts to treat the signature injuries of the war, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, while enacting a law to guarantee timely and predictable funding for veterans' health care and to address the health care needs of our nearly 2 million female veterans.
* Provided troops and veterans the benefits they have earned and resources they need, giving troops a pay raise, restoring military readiness, providing the best training and equipment for the men and women serving in our Armed Forces, taking steps to reduce the backlog and wait for veterans trying to access their earned benefits, providing special payments for service members and veterans who were forced to serve under stop-loss orders since 2001, and making headway in ending the Disabled Veterans Tax and the Military Families' Tax.
* Strengthened support for military families, building more military child care centers and better military family housing, and enacting landmark legislation to provide much-needed support for family members and other caregivers for wounded veterans.
I believe we all have a responsibility to help serve those who have served us. I am proud to be part of the effort to move our state and nation toward the goal of improving services for our veterans.
Join me in thanking our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom. The thanks of a grateful nation should go out to all veterans who left the comfort of their homes and loved ones and put their lives on hold. On this Veterans Day, let us all take a moment to provide the support and gratitude that they greatly deserve.