Vol. 53, No. 5

In this edition

This edition of the Forum is a small tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our freedom, and thanking those heroes this Veterans Day.

Let History Guide Us on Veterans Day

The price of freedom is never free. That is the lesson today’s Veterans continue to teach us.

Service, Sacrifice, and a Sacred Duty

Veterans Day is our national holiday to honor the sacrifice of our veterans and to celebrate their bravery and skill. 

“I’ll Never Forget My Time in Military Service.”

The VA should absolutely be held accountable for how they help care for our veterans, and I’m continuing to press them on that issue.

More Than a Day of Remembrance, Veterans Day is a Call to Action.

I am humbled daily by the sacrifice that countless men, women, and families endure on behalf of a grateful nation.

“It Takes a Special Person to Take Up Arms in Defense of Our Country.”

As a Marine, I swore to always remain faithful to those serving by my side.

“We Will Always Need Defenders, and We Will Always Protect Them.”

I am a firm believer that we must honor the commitments we’ve made to our veterans – those who place themselves in harm’s way to defend our values and way of life.

“Their Willingness to Protect this Country Shall Never be Forgotten.”

Their willingness to protect this country shall never be forgotten, and I want our Veterans to know their service and patriotism is very much appreciated.

“Service is Always Greater than Self.”

Outside of becoming a father and grandfather, having the unique opportunity to lead Marines in the fight has always been the proudest moment in my life.

“Never Forget”

Let’s get back to the things that defined America for generations: love of country, patriotism, optimism, and a deep appreciation of our veterans of past and present.

“We must Ensure Our Veterans Know that They are Not Alone.”

As we evaluate how best to help our veterans in the 21st century, I believe community is key.

“Every Service Member is United in Their Choice to Put Service Before Self.”

I became a bomb technician because I wanted to save lives and serve a cause greater than myself.

“We will Remain Always Faithful.”

Semper Fidelis is not just a slogan or creed; it is a way of life that only those who have earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor can fully understand.

“It is Essential that We Take Care of Those Who Took Care of Us.”

Our country has sent generations of heroes to defend our freedom. It is essential that we take care of those who took care of us.

“Be Grateful for the Many Sacrifices that Keep Us Free.”

It is only with age that I have come to realize and truly understand the significance of the sacrifices that veterans made.

“To All of Our Nation’s Veterans, We Thank You”

My experience in uniform has taught me that focusing on a mission makes it harder to be distracted by other things.

“Let Us Never Forget Those Who Willingly Step Forward to Shoulder the Duty.”

We each benefit from the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the line to defend the freedom, peace, and prosperity we enjoy as a country.

“America Has Been a Shining Example of Freedom Because of Those Who Serve Her in Uniform.”

America has been a shining example of freedom because of those who serve her in uniform. To my fellow veterans, thank you and God bless you and your families!

“Service is Always Greater than Self.”

Lieutenant General Jack Bergman in 2005.

In 1969, I received my commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, completed flight training, and deployed to Vietnam as a CH-46 helicopter pilot. After 40 years of service to my country, I retired from my final assignment as Commander of Marine Forces North/Marine Forces Reserve, at the rank of Lieutenant General. My parents instilled in me the value of service and my time as a Marine ignited a joyful love for aviation, an intense passion for our nation’s freedoms, and a deep appreciation for those who have served.

Folks frequently ask me about the proudest moment of my life.  Was it winning a Congressional race as a political outsider?  Pinning on my stars?  These questions miss the mark.

Outside of becoming a father and grandfather, having the unique opportunity to lead Marines in the fight has always been the proudest moment in my life. We know we aren’t in the fight for ourselves – we’re in it for that Marine on our left and our right. Having served alongside some of the finest people I’ve ever met, these were truly the proudest moments of my life.

Outside of becoming a father and grandfather, having the unique opportunity to lead Marines in the fight has always been the proudest moment in my life.

Yet after 40 years, I hung up the camouflage and traded it in for a suit to have the distinct privilege of serving in the U.S. Congress. In this (relatively) new role, I’m committed to our Armed Forces and those who’ve served in uniform. As a Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Armed Services Committee, I’ve made it my mission to positively influence the path of our service men and women from the time they join the military, during their days of active or reserve service, and all the way through their life as a Veteran interacting with the VA and continuing service in their civilian life.

On Veterans Day this year, as I have for the past several years, I will be joining friends in Gaylord, Michigan, to thank and honor the many Veterans who call northern Michigan home. But words and deeds remain two different things, so as I serve on the VA Committee, I’ve worked closely with my colleagues in the House and with Veterans across the District adopting good legislation to ensure our Veterans receive the personal benefits they deserve. From the VA Mission Act and the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to the Forever GI Bill, I’ve pushed significant policy changes within the VA that are now the law of the land. But our work is far from over, and a dark cloud hangs over us as we celebrate this Veterans Day because over 20 of our Veteran brothers and sisters take their own lives in suicide every single day.

In spite of record funding being poured into the VA system to combat Veteran suicide, the number of suicides has remained relatively unchanged for over a decade. While there are many factors such as isolation, lack of access to care, and combat-related trauma that may contribute, the data show that 7 out of every 10 Veteran suicides are from people not within the VA system. For this reason, I’ve introduced the IMPROVE Well-Being For Veterans Act with fellow Veteran Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA). This legislation would fundamentally enhance coordination and planning of Veteran mental health and suicide prevention services by allowing the VA to provide grant funding to nonprofits and local organizations that can supply a range of services to at-risk Veterans. We are working to reach the Veterans who have been outside our system of care.  Preventing Veteran suicide takes a community, and this policy would be a monumental step towards ending this crisis.

I’m confident that in an era of political discord and partisan games, leaders from both sides of the aisle will come together and put the needs of our Veterans first.

With over a half-dozen VSOs supporting this legislation, over 140 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, companion legislation in the Senate, and support from VA Secretary Wilkie, I’m confident that in an era of political discord and partisan games, leaders from both sides of the aisle will come together and put the needs of our Veterans first.

There is not a Veteran life that is acceptable to lose for any reason and this common-sense legislation will help save lives of those who have sacrificed for our country.

As we celebrate our Veterans this week, remember that all scars are not visible. Remember that we still fight for the Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen on our right and left. Remember that service is always greater than self. And remember that the one percent of Americans who’ve answered the call to serve in our nation’s uniform deserve our honor, respect, and thanks.

Jack Bergman represents the 1st District of Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives. Having retired as a Three-Star General in the Marine Corps, Bergman is the highest-ranking military official ever elected to the United States Congress.