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Dr. Tommy Sowers Headshot

Make Every Day Veteran's Day

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Sunday is Veterans Day. After a long election cycle, our nation comes together on this holiday to celebrate and honor the service of millions of men and women -- to reflect on and renew the sacred covenant to care for those who, in times of peace and war, stepped forward to defend democracy and freedom.

As on many Veterans Days in years past, this year we find our nation at war. The war in Afghanistan -- the longest conflict in our history -- sharply reminds us at the Department of Veteran's Affairs of our urgent and ongoing commitment to Servicemembers and Veterans. Thousands have come home with complex wounds, both visible and invisible, that may result in a lifetime of care. From those that rushed the beaches of Normandy to those that climbed the mountains of Helmand, the Veterans in our care have carried remarkable burdens. The VA's duty is to help them shoulder them.

The hazards of war do not end when the guns fall silent. During the last four years, President Obama and the VA moved to correct decades of injustice. We granted healthcare and benefits to Veterans exposed to Agent Orange and illnesses connected to Gulf War service. We made it easier for Veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress to file a claim. And, we recognized that Veterans' invisible wounds are as important to treat as gunshot wounds or amputations. Because of these decisions, nearly a million more Veterans now receive their earned benefits.

These lifelong commitments take resources. Over four years President Obama faithfully cared for those who serve by fighting for significant budget increases. These resources allowed VA to focus its mission and expand Veteran's access to world-class primary care and benefits, like zero down VA-backed home loans and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

VA also expanded its healthcare reach, opening dozens of facilities across the country, both with brick and mortar hospitals and mobile vans -- a clinic on wheels -- that extend primary and mental health care to Veterans in rural areas. And to cut down on wait times and boost efficiency, VA expanded telehealth resources to bring VA-managed care to the homes of Veterans. On the job front, VA partnered with the First Lady's Joining Forces initiative and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help thousands of Veterans find jobs in 2012. And, we're not done yet; dozens of nationwide hiring fairs for Veterans -- part of the Chamber's Hire Our Heroes campaign -- will continue into year.

Today's Veterans are strong. With our care, patience, and treatment, we will help our next greatest generation become stronger. So today, let us ensure that duty and loyalty must flow both ways for our democracy to flourish. Let us renew the covenant and make every day Veteran's Day.

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