November 11, 2019 10:00 AM
By U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
One of the greatest testaments to the United States of America is the unflagging dedication of our armed forces and the men and women who volunteer to uphold the mantle of freedom.
In a world of unknown and dangerous threats, nearly 2.1 million Americans have voluntarily raised their right hands and sworn to defend our nation against all enemies. Our all-volunteer force is committed to keeping America safe at home and abroad, regardless of personal cost.
Veterans Day is an important time to reflect on the men and women who protect our American ideals. Since the start of the American Revolution, dedicated patriots have given their all to defend the principles of freedom and democracy that make America the greatest country on this Earth. While the battlefield has changed since then, their devotion has not.
We must remain equally committed to providing our troops with the benefits and support they deserve.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for the last five years and a committee member for my entire 15 years in the Senate, I have learned much about these patriots, the service they provide, and the challenges they confront when they return home.
Their dedication has been my daily inspiration, and it has been my mission to fulfill our promises to those who have borne the battle in defense of the United States and to their family members. These men and women are why I’ve pursued lasting solutions to help improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the way we care for them.
Over the last five years, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee has passed more than 56 pieces of bipartisan legislation to significantly reform the VA and improve the quality of benefits our veterans receive. These reforms include overhauling the VA’s community care programs with the 2018 VA MISSION Act law, improving accountability at the VA with the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, and modernizing the process for veterans’ appeals of benefit determinations with the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.
I’m also proud that we expanded and modernized VA education benefits with the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act to remove the arbitrary 15-year limit for a veteran to use his or her G.I. Bill, so veterans can now use their education benefits for life.
The battlefield has changed, and I’m proud of the dedication our committee has shown to adapting and improving care for our brave veterans as they return. The work we’ve accomplished is one of the things I will miss most about working in the Senate when I retire at the end of the year.
Going forward, I am confident that the new committee chair who takes the helm in January will continue our work to put aside partisan differences to make the right changes for the men and women who protect all of us and preserve our American way of life.
On the battlefield, we don’t see Democrat and Republican soldiers, we see American soldiers. Our approach to their care should never be a partisan issue, and we should never be satisfied with ‘good enough.’ We have been dedicated to doing better, and that focus must continue.
On this Veterans Day, I encourage every American to reflect and give thanks for the service and sacrifice veterans make for their country and for us. Without them, we would not be the greatest country on this Earth.
Today and every day, may God bless our veterans, and may God bless America.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.