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A Time to Stand for Our Veterans

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A buddy called me recently looking for advice. He's a recent college graduate with a great resume, but simply cannot find a job. With over $12,000 in student loans his situation is getting desperate. He needs help but can't seem to get it.

This much of the story is all too common. Too many Americans face the same hurdles Jim is up against. But Jim's story is different than most, and that difference is what makes his problem so appalling. Jim is a Marine combat veteran. He served in Iraq and was wounded in Operation Phantom Fury -- the Second Battle of Fallujah and the bloodiest battle of the war.

Two months after taking shrapnel wounds, Jim left Iraq. Later, he suffered another injury while training and was medically discharged. Jim did what Marines do and pressed on. He came home to Pennsylvania, went to college, and made good grades. And now he's stuck.

It's galling that someone who risked his life to defend our nation struggles to find opportunity here at home. Heroes like Jim deserve better -- surely, they've earned it.

When I served in Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne Division, I saw firsthand how incredibly brave and committed my fellow paratroopers were. It's impossible to measure their service and devotion to this country.

Now the U.S. Senate has the opportunity to do right by Jim, the men and women I served with, and every other veteran who put their life on the line for us.

This week, the Senate is voting on the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits - two pieces of the American Jobs Act that would provide tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.

Last month the President sent the American Jobs Act to Congress in an effort to take the immediate and necessary steps needed to create jobs. Some wanted it broken into smaller pieces. It is now.

The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits need to pass. The current economic crisis has hit our military community hard. The unemployment rate among veterans is at 11.7 percent, which means that close to a million veterans are unemployed. This number is unacceptable. Veterans deserve better. Now Congress has the chance to put our veterans back to work. No more excuses.

These efforts on behalf of America's heroes are exactly what the American people are looking for: common sense, not controversy. It's based on ideas both Democrats and Republicans have long supported. There is no excuse for Congress not to pass it immediately.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Senate have let partisan games get in the way of standing up for middle class and military families.

Recently, the Senate GOP blocked a bill that would have put more cops and firefighters on the street, and more teachers in the classroom.

And even as we learn more about the criminals that robbed Americans of their jobs, their pensions, and their homes, the Senate GOP continues to block the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency charged with protecting Americans from predatory lenders and other unscrupulous financial practices. Without a director the CFPB cannot fully do this job, and Americans are left vulnerable.

On Veterans Day, Republican Senators will participate in parades and salute the American flag. But patriotism is not measured by words -- it's measured by actions. If they decide that scoring political points is more important than providing jobs for our veterans, then the true depth of their patriotism will be revealed.

In the end service is about putting country ahead of politics. My fellow veterans know this. They have sacrificed more than some of us will ever know. Our politicians need to honor their sacrifice and do what's right.

Without question, our military has faced one of the most challenging periods in its history in the last 10 years. Life at home has had its own set of challenges.

As a country, we have a sacred trust with our men and women in uniform that begins with enlistment, but never ends.

This Veterans Day let's say thank you to our troops in a real way by offering them the opportunities that our grandparents enjoyed following World War II. If we give them the chance they've earned, there is no doubt they will succeed and build a stronger America for us all.

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