This week, we take a moment to recognize our nation’s veterans, the men and women who have given their time, risked their safety, and in some cases lost their lives in service to our country. Regardless of your position on past and present military operations, we owe a great deal of thanks to those willing to put on the uniform of the United States Military.
Northern Virginia is home to more than 12,000 military retirees, the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of our veterans.
This year, as our country laid to rest the last remaining World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, and the number of living WWII veterans becomes a smaller community, we welcome back a new group of veterans, a group many have called the “next greatest generation.”
As our forces draw down from Iraq and return from overseas, this new generation of veterans comes home to a struggling economy with limited job prospects. This Veterans Day, we should renew our efforts to keep our promises to the more than 24 million veterans, young and old, by redoubling our efforts to help them make a successful transition to the civilian working world.
Education is the key to finding a good job. And in 2008, Congress upheld part of our promise to young veterans with passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This new law is providing every veteran, including reservists and the National Guard who served after 9/11, education benefits equal to the cost of attending the most expensive public institution in their state of residence, applicable to their school of choice.
Before Congress right now is a proposal from President Obama’s American Jobs Act which would provide tax credits to businesses who hire unemployed veterans and veterans with service-connected disabilities. We need to quickly pass this legislation.
The transition from the battlefield to the office park can be difficult for many veterans. This week, I was also able to help launch the Intel Veterans’ Employment Training Program (Intel VET), part of the White House’s “Joining Forces” initiate, that provides DC-metro area veterans with training, mentoring, and job search services. Public-private partnerships like the Intel VET Initiative will prove to be invaluable resources to our veterans, our economy, and our nation.
Our country should provide not only tools our servicemembers need in battle, but also the educational training, job opportunities and medical care needed when they return home. As President Obama, Congress, and the business community work together to create better opportunities for our veterans, you can do your part this week by simply saying “thank you” to the veterans in your life.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.