Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, Richard Burr (R- NC), Ranking Member on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees, will introduce a resolution to recognize Veterans Day, November 11, 2014, as a special "Welcome Home" commemoration for all who have served in the military since Congress passed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.
The bipartisan resolution, which has received endorsements from the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), will encourage American communities to plan activities for Veterans Day 2014 to honor all post-9/11 veterans, as well as those who continue to serve in Afghanistan in a training and assistance role, and promote awareness of their contributions to our nation. Since Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force in September 2001, more than two million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- many serving multiple deployments. As of today, 6,819 Americans have been killed in these conflicts, and 52,037 have been wounded.
"Let's make Veterans Day 2014 a special welcome home for all who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan post-9/11 era. Let's shine a light and say thank you for the sacrifice and work that's been done by this generation that's been at war for 13 years," said Senator Kaine. "The nation owes them a lot. We owe them a fixed VA system. But we also owe them that moment that recognizes the end of this chapter with the thank you that is appropriate for what they've done for our nation."
Kaine's first Senate bill, the Troop Talent Act, which improves and streamlines the credentialing process by aligning skills acquired in the military with civilian certifications or licenses required for post-service employment, was passed as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He has also introduced two other pieces of legislation to improve credentialing and higher education standards for veterans, the SERVE Act and the CREDIT Act. Kaine was an original co-sponsor of the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation to improve veterans' access to health care and address serious problems facing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
"Every November 11th as a nation we take time to honor our veterans and reflect upon their service. These men and women selflessly give of themselves to defend our freedoms, and we are constantly humbled by their strength and courage," said Senator Burr. "This year we would like to recognize our veterans who have served post 9/11 in a special "Welcome Home" tribute. It is my hope that the Senate will swiftly pass this bipartisan resolution so communities around our great nation can plan events for our post 9/11 warriors."
"Heroes of the longest armed conflict in American history deserve heartfelt gratitude for their service and sacrifice," Senator Blumenthal said. "We must honor and celebrate them -- with this resolution, and a simple "thank you' every day."
"The American Legion applauds you for the priority you are placing on this nation's service members and veterans by sponsoring this Post 9/11 Veterans Welcome Home Resolution," wrote Daniel M. Dellinger, National Commander of the American Legion. "With the U.S. war in Iraq complete and U.S. direct military operations in Afghanistan to end in 2014, it is entirely appropriate, as this resolution calls for, to encourage American communities across this great land to plan activities for Veterans Day 2014 to honor and support all who have served during these wars and to provide citizens of the United States an opportunity to present unified recognition of the service and sacrifice of post-9/11 veterans."