America owes our veterans a debt that can never be repaid, and honoring our commitment to the health and wellbeing of veterans is one of my top priorities. In recent years, I have been pleased to help meet the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and the increasing health care needs of older veterans by supporting historic funding increases for the Veterans Administration.
This has led to major advancements in treatment of battlefield wounds, but the long-term care needs of the severely disabled will require an ongoing commitment. Also, not all wounds of war are visible. Our nation must do more to reduce the tragic rates of suicide, substance abuse, and crime among veterans.
We also owe veterans and their families an opportunity to use the skills they learned in the Armed Forces to make a decent living in civilian life. The over-12% unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is unacceptable, and the House must act now on job training assistance and tax credits for employers who hire jobless veterans. Also, we must increase our efforts to provide affordable housing for veterans who find themselves without a roof over their heads. In our Armed Forces, no one is left behind. So too, for our veterans, none should be left behind.
Veterans Day each year is an annual opportunity to honor the service and sacrifice of those who served, and their families. I urge all of my constituents to join me this Veterans Day in expressing gratitude to those members of our communities who answered our nation's call.
The heroes among us have given so much in service to America. On Veterans Day, and every day, we bear a solemn responsibility to do all we can to be of service to them and their loved ones. A great place to start is the "Joining Forces" effort spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
This week, I have attended veterans-related events throughout the First Congressional District, and on Friday I will participate in Veterans' Day commemorations in Smithtown and Calverton National Cemetery. If you are a veteran and are having trouble accessing the benefits you earned or are seeking the medals you are entitled to for your service, please contact my district office at 631-289-6500.
Congressman Tim Bishop
First District of New York