Vol. 54, No. 5

In this edition

The country pays tribute to Americans each year on Veterans Day. And for the second year in a row, The Ripon Forum is publishing this special edition as a small way of paying tribute to them as well.

“On November 11, Let’s Thank Our Women Veterans.”

Courage is courage, excellence is excellence, and sacrifice is sacrifice, regardless of gender.

“Protecting and Serving the Families of our Nation.”

It is my hope that we never forget that the primary goal of government is to provide for the common defense.

“It is Our Duty to Fight for Them.”

While I will never know all their names or hear all their stories, they are my brothers and sisters.

“Thank Them with Words, but also with Actions.”

I experienced firsthand what it takes to care for veterans and the unique health challenges that they can face because of their service.

“We’re All in This Together.”

Everything relies on our brave warriors standing guard at freedom’s gate day and night.

“I’m thinking about every American who serves.”

Truly believing in service—in servant leadership—is what gets us through.

“They made it a priority to fight for us.”

Veterans Day provides an opportunity to recognize and honor all men and women who have answered the call of duty through military service.

“Every American, Republican or Democrat, has a sacred responsibility to our veterans.”

As a Member of Congress, I will continue to advocate for the relationships that kept me safe when I served.

From Armistice Day to Veterans Day: How History Has Led us to Honor All Heroes of Our Nation

November 11th stands in history as the moment peace began after close to 10 million soldiers gave their lives and 21 million soldiers were wounded worldwide.

“It is Our Duty to Fight for Them.”

Every member of the United States military takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution. It is the foundation of a bond that American servicemembers share with one another – regardless of branch, rank, station, or era. As a Marine, it is a bond I share with my son Stephen, a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, and now my grandson Spencer, who is at Marine Corps Recruit Training.

Most years, I spend Veterans’ Day with as many of our Southern Illinois veterans as I can. It is a day I cherish because it gives me an opportunity to thank a neighbor for putting their life on the line in defense of the freedoms we hold dear.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 posed a challenge to our plans, as it has in so many ways this year. State and local health guidelines may limit our opportunities to gather together; but they don’t eliminate the need to express our gratitude for our nation’s heroes. As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, that is something I strive for each and every day – not just on Veterans’ Day.

While I will never know all their names or hear all their stories, they are my brothers and sisters.

I’ve introduced legislation to help combat the veteran suicide crisis. The Access to Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act will require each VA facility to have at least one suicide prevention coordinator on staff to help local veterans. We lose 20 servicemembers and veterans to suicide every day and by improving access to these vitally important health professionals, we will hopefully make a difference.

But we can’t wait to provide care to veterans once they are already struggling. We must be proactive. That’s why I introduced the VA Precision Medicine Act which will help the VA better identify veterans who face higher mental health risks. Modern medicine and scientific research have made it possible to identify patients who are at a higher risk for a variety of health conditions, like depression or PTSD. This legislation would require the VA to implement these practices so that we can get veterans the care they need sooner so that they are less likely to become part of that statistic.

As the top Republican on the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, I’m also working to ensure that our veterans receive the benefits and care they have rightly earned. I was proud to help introduce the Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act in August. This package includes bipartisan and bicameral proposals to cut red tape for education, life insurance, and disability benefits and exams for veterans.

This is progress. But we have plenty of work left to do. We need to continue streamlining efforts to provide our veterans their benefits; provide a yearly cost-of-living adjustment to them and their families; ensure we are hiring more highly-qualified staff at VA medical centers; and modernizing outdated systems so that they work for the veterans who use them. We have nearly 55,000 veterans in Southern Illinois and over 17 million nationwide. While I will never know all their names or hear all their stories, they are my brothers and sisters. They’ve gone to battle for our nation and our freedoms, and it is our duty to fight for them now that they are home.

Mike Bost represents the 12th district of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives where he serves on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Congressman Bost served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982 where he was trained as an electronic specialist and radar repairman.