Ripon Forum looks at Republicans and Democrats who are working together to help our veterans and keep our nation secure

WASHINGTON, DC — With American politics polarized and America facing an increasing number of threats around the world, the 5th Annual Veterans Day Special Edition of The Ripon Forum shines a light on a group of Republican and Democratic leaders who are working across the aisle to take care of our veterans and keep our nation secure.

The leaders include U.S. Reps. Mike Bost (IL-12) and Mark Takano (CA-39). Bost is a Republican who serves as Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, while Takano is a Democrat who serves as the Committee’s Ranking Member. In a joint op-ed for this Veterans Day Special Edition, the pair write about their cooperative efforts to help those who served — efforts which they note are a continuation of their work together in the last Congress when Democrats were in control.

“While we swapped who strikes the gavel at the start of each congressional hearing this year,” Bost and Takano write, “our Committee’s mission for veterans and their families has remained unchanged. In the 118th Congress, our Committee is focused on conducting vitally important oversight of VA’s implementation of the PACT Act, to ensure that this landmark expansion of healthcare and benefits delivers for the over three million eligible veterans and their families. We’re going to continue to hold VA to that promise.”

Two other leaders writing for this Special Edition are U.S. Reps. Tony Gonzales (TX-23) and Jason Crow (CO-6). Gonzales, a Republican, and Crow, a Democrat, serve as Co-Chairs of the bipartisan For Country Caucus, which, the pair explain, is: “a group of 30 veterans from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force who didn’t see the end of their military careers as the end of their service to this country. Having taken the same oath, we have an immediate sense of understanding and trust. We came to Washington with a commitment to put aside party differences and get work done, even in the toughest of times.”

According to Gonzales and Crow, this work includes trying to “ensure food security, address military housing transparency and accountability, expand parental leave for certain servicemembers, and make it easier for military spouses to secure employment.” The group also played an active role in making sure our allies were taken care of following the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. “We saw the people who served alongside us, people we had promised safety for working with us, now in grave danger,” the pair write. “We expedited the process for Afghan translators and interpreters to escape the Taliban and led efforts to pass the Afghan War Commission Act. Our work isn’t done.”

In addition to the op-eds by the bipartisan leaders of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and For Country Caucus, this edition also includes a series of essays by veteran/lawmakers Jake Ellzey (TX-6)Mike Garcia (CA-27), and Jen Kiggans (VA-2) discussing their own military service and what Veterans Day means to them.

In other pieces, Darin Selnick, a former advisor to the VA Secretary and currently a senior advisor at Concerned Veterans for America, examines the failure of the Department to implement the MISSION Act five years after its passage, and why Congress may need to step in.

Rosalinda Vasquez Maury, the Director of Applied Research & Analytics at the D’Aniello Institute of Veterans and Military Families, looks at how veterans are shaping civic and political landscapes heading into the 2024 election. This includes 96 veterans currently serving in Congress, and over 120 veterans who are running as non-incumbent candidates for the U.S. House and Senate next year.

In another essay, Forum Deputy Editor Caroline Banaszak looks back at the 31 Presidents who served in uniform, and how their military service shaped their political career.

Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (KY-6) examine the current Housing First policy to end homelessness and why this policy is a failure. Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin squares off in a debate with Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute about privatizing the VA and how this could impact the quality of care America’s veterans receive.

And in the latest Ripon Profile, U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-1) looks back on her 24-year career in the military, and explains why a lifetime of service shapes her worldview.

The Ripon Forum is published six times a year by The Ripon Society, a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.