This May, I am honored to commemorate the 14th annual National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), created to pay tribute to, thank, and remember all of those who have served and who continue to serve our country. For those who risk their lives every day or have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of a free and democratic America, I express my sincerest gratitude. I would also like to thank the loyal family members of servicemen and women for their sacrifices. While all of May is dedicated to honoring our military members, noteworthy days in the month include Loyalty Day (May 1st), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (May 6th), VE Day (May 8th), Armed Forces Day (May 21st), and Memorial Day (May 30th).
Over the past year, Congress has passed legislation aimed at bettering the lives of our brave servicemen and women, and showing appreciation for our troops. Some of these measures include enacting the Veterans Jobs Bill, which provides tax cuts incentives to businesses that hire veterans; negotiating the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011, which makes education more affordable for veterans; and ending the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. I am proud to have voted for all of these bills.
Improving the quality of life of military personnel and veterans has always been and will continue to be at the forefront of my priorities. This is why I introduced the Veterans Pensions Protection Act of 2011, which guarantees the continuity of veterans' pensions. I was pleased to see this legislation pass the House of Representatives on October 11, 2011 as part of the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2011.
It is vital that lawmakers continue to support legislation that benefits members of the military, especially when transitioning into civilian life. Unfortunately, returning veterans disproportionately suffer from high suicide, unemployment, homelessness, and mental health disorder rates. We need to do more to help our veterans and military who have served our country so bravely.
In observation of NAMN, I call on my colleagues and all Americans to do what they can to help the more than 22 million veterans and 1.4 million active duty military members. Without these men and women and their families, America would not be the great country it is today. I encourage everyone to show respect for our military, both active duty and veterans, not only during NMAM but year-round as they fight to protect the freedoms and safety we enjoy every day.