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Honoring Our Veterans

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Rep. Garrett: Honoring Our Veterans

November 10, 2004 - Each year, Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to honor the brave men and women who have so selflessly stood in harm's way to protect the fundamental freedoms of our great nation. This year, as America continues the war on terrorism, Veterans Day carries special significance.

While we take this day to honor those who have given so much in the past for our freedom, our thoughts are drawn on a daily basis to the veterans of tomorrow - the brave men and women of our armed services who are fighting for the cause of freedom and democracy around the globe today to protect the freedoms and values that we hold dear in America.

Like the veterans before them, these brave men and women deserve our respect, our gratitude and our care. Sadly, too often our military personnel return home, their great sacrifices forgotten. But we must not forget. We must remain committed to ensuring that every veteran is shown appreciation for the sacrifices they have made for our great nation.

Congress has made significant accomplishments recently to acknowledge the valiant efforts of America's armed service men and women; I have proudly supported these measures:

The FY 2005 House budget resolution which totaled veterans' spending at $70.5 billion, an increase of 15.3 percent from last year's total level of $61.2 billion. This budget also provides $1.2 billion more than the President requested amount which could be used for veterans' medical care and prosthetic research.

The Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act which increases disability compensation rates to veterans with service-connected disabilities as well as dependency and insurance compensation rates for survivors of certain service-connected disabilities.

The Jobs for Veterans Act reformed veterans' job training and placement programs through a new system of incentives and accountability measures aimed at providing more economic security. In addition, the The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Benefits Improvement Act provides disabled veterans with assistance in starting and growing small business enterprises. The plan also authorizes the use of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits to pay for non-degree, non-credit entrepreneurship courses for eligible veterans at approved institutions.

The Fallen Patriots Tax Relief Act doubles the death gratuity payments for families of fallen soldiers from $6,000 to $12,000. Additionally, it ensures that the death gratuity payment is fully tax-free.

America's veterans have answered the call of duty with dignity, with courage and with great honor. We can continue to make gains in honoring their service by working to provide them with better health care, enhanced access to housing and job opportunities, tax relief and more generous benefits for their loved ones. I will continue to proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our nation's veterans and their families and do all that we can to compensate them for their sacrifice. Our commitment to the brave men and women serving in our armed forces must be as resolute as the commitment they have demonstrated to serving and protecting our nation. Our troops deserve nothing less.

Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-5) represents portions of northern New Jersey including Bergen, Sussex, Warren and Passaic counties.

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