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Kohl Column: Honoring the Ultimate Sacrifice


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By Senator Herb Kohl

In February, I was honored to attend the send off of the 32nd Infantry Brigade, the largest deployment of Wisconsin National Guard troops since WWII. As we watched these men and women part with loved ones and board airplanes, it reminded me of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women throughout our history. We need to remember these sacrifices and honor our fallen soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines who have served valiantly and courageously and have not returned home.

The best way to honor the fallen is to continue supporting those who serve today. Our soldiers deserve to have the finest equipment and facilities that our nation can provide. No soldiers should serve abroad or return home to anything but the best protection and care we have to offer.

To deliver on that promise, I have worked to increase funding for improvements at Ft. McCoy which serves as a military training facility in western Wisconsin. Ft. McCoy trains over 100,000 personnel every year from all branches of the military preparing our Armed Forces before they go into harm's way. I have also supported improvements to Truax Field in Madison, the Air National Guard base that provides rapid reaction F-16 fighter coverage to the Upper Midwest. Our military need state-of-the-art facilities to ensure quality training and preparedness for their missions and I am committed to ensuring they have it.

We are indebted to those who have fought for and secured our freedom, and must provide veterans with programs that meet their needs. It is for this reason I urged the Veterans Administration to open more hospitals in Wisconsin. This has led to the development of a new VA hospital in Brown County.

Additionally, I co-sponsored the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act whichexpanded the educational benefits offered to veterans that have served our country since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act makes obtaining an Associate's and Bachelor's degree more affordable, and helps transition veterans back into civilian life.

We have also been working to make it easier for veterans to re-enlist if they want to contribute to the current struggle. Recently in the War Supplemental Appropriations Bill, I co-sponsored the Military Pay Fairness Act, which makes it easier for veterans who have re-enlisted to receive a military retirement pension, and avoid bureaucratic red tape.

I have met with many of the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces over the years, and I can tell you that they are of the highest quality. They display honor, they display discipline and most of all, they display a pride in their country, branch and mission. I am proud to represent them and understand the sacrifices they make to serve and protect our country, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice.

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