Introducing the "Shoulder-to-Shoulder:
Standing with our Veterans" Initiative, Part 1
Over the course of this campaign I have spoken at length to numerous veterans of America's armed forces. What I have learned is, to commit understatement, troubling.
I am appalled by the manners in which, as a nation, we have abrogated our responsibility to defend those who risked their lives to defend us. Federal and state services currently offered to veterans take little if any advantage of cutting-edge technological resources that are routinely utilized to support commercial ventures. The creative resources engaged in developing games
and gadgets are nowhere in evidence when it comes to the creation and delivery of service systems for veterans.
I should add that I also have visited with hundreds of our senior citizens. As I speak with our elders, whose dire financial straits often force them to choose between food and medication, my thoughts turn to our veterans and how they too are often discarded once their usefulness is deemed to have ended. There is no more tragic an indictment of a society than its neglect of its elders and warriors. For as long as I serve in Congress, I shall do all in my power to defend
those who defend our country, and to provide for those who provided for us. You and your comrades and your mothers and fathers have my dedicated support.
Today I am announcing my "Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with Our Veterans" initiative. It represents a radical rethinking of veterans' services and their delivery systems, and runs the gamut from the creation of social networking and other interactive/informational tools, to the writing of new legislation, to creating systems through which veterans' voices will be heard, their needs acknowledged, their medical, emotional, and economic welfare reinforced.
In Congress, I shall work tirelessly to secure the funding not only to launch this initiative, but also to establish its programs as vital, long-term components in a comprehensive service package.
Throughout this campaign I have done far more listening than talking. I shall continue to do so for as long as I am in public service.
I have heard veterans. My respect for their service and sacrifice is beyond measure.
Because they fought, I don‟t have to fight.
Because so many of their children and grandchildren today stand in harm‟s way, I stand with my wife and son in the security of our backyard and watch our national colors explode across a warm, clear evening sky.
Because of all that has been lost in the cause of freedom won, each of us, in our unique ways, is obliged to celebrate and remember and, somehow, do our best to give our best to America. On my life‟s path, I‟m guided by the words of Hamilton Fish, a 19th century governor of New York.
I share them with you now in hopes that you will find them worthy of enactment in your lives:
"If our country is worth dying for in time of war, let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in time of peace."
For those who fought in our name and returned from service, let us understand that our greatest obligation is to care for them as they cared for us.
For those who perished in our name, let us understand that the greatest tribute we can pay to them is to do all we can to stop adding to their number.
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