This Veterans Day, we salute the 240,000 people in Nevada and the millions nationwide who have bravely served our country. They truly represent the best of America. Whether it was on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam or in the deserts of the Middle East, Nevadans and millions of brave American soldiers marched into the crosshairs of danger – willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Our nation has a solemn duty to look after our fearless veterans and their families once they return home from duty.
In Nevada, we have one of the fastest-growing veteran communities in the nation. One in every eight Nevadans are veterans, and this number will continue to grow. It is critically important that the men and women who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces be treated with the respect they deserve. They have risked their lives on behalf of their country and have relied on the promise of benefits to help support themselves and their families. I disagree with proposals to make unfair cuts in benefits that have already been earned, and I will do everything I can in the Congress to prevent such proposals from being enacted.
One of my primary focuses while serving Nevada’s service men and women as their senator has been to ensure their voices are heard at the highest level of the federal government. I have secured millions of dollars in funds necessary for our veterans to get the support, training and services they deserve. A few months ago, after years of work, I announced the Obama Administration’s implementation of a new parole program that will reunite courageous Filipino veterans in Nevada and throughout the country with their loved ones after facing decades of injustice and separation.
Additionally, I have worked for many years to allow disabled veterans to receive both their retirement pay and disability pay. For too long, the law has prevented veterans who have been injured while defending our nation from receiving both types of pay, known as concurrent receipt. I think it is wrong that veterans have been denied this right. I first introduced concurrent receipt legislation nearly 14 years ago and am pleased that veterans with at least a 50 percent disability rating are eligible for concurrent receipt. I will not stop fighting until we right this historical wrong and legalize full concurrent receipt for the benefit of the brave men and women who have served this country in uniform.
I also worked with Congress this year to honor a Nevada veteran, Master Chief Petty Officer Jesse Dean. Officer Dean is revered across Nevada for decades of work with his fellow veterans. This year, Congress passed – and President Obama signed – legislation naming the Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Laughlin in his honor. By naming the clinic after this good man, we ensured his legacy will be celebrated for years to come.
We still have a long way to go in meeting our commitments to the brave men and women who have defended our country. Throughout my time in Congress, I have fought hard to ensure that veterans have access to the care and benefits they have earned and deserve. No veteran should ever find themselves out of work, homeless, or struggling. Taking care of our veterans is one of the costs of a robust defense that keeps America safe, and to neglect that responsibility is immoral. We must continue to do all that we can to uphold our sacred obligation to our veterans not just on Veterans Day, but every day.