Vol. 56, No. 5

In this edition

With Veterans Day once again upon us, we are publishing our 4th Annual Special Edition of The Ripon Forum to commemorate the holiday.  This year’s edition features personal essays written by four members of Congress who also served in uniform and were asked to answer a simple question – “What does Veterans Day mean to […]

Protecting the Women Who Protect Us

Women currently represent 18% of the Armed Forces and make up the largest growing population of veterans. However, they are facing significant challenges while serving. 

The Potential of the G.I. Bill and the Need to Combat Fraud in the Program

We owe it to all veterans to deliver on America’s promise with an education befitting of veterans’ selfless service to our nation. The time to expect more for the G.I. Bill is now. 

How America Turned the Tide on Veteran Homelessness

Honoring our veterans means ensuring that every person who has served in the military can live a safe and secure life after they’ve completed their service.  And the single most important thing that every veteran needs is a safe and affordable place to live.  

“I Think First and Foremost of Those I Served Alongside.”

On Veterans Day each year, I think first and foremost of those I served alongside in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  It was an incredible honor and opportunity to serve our country as the U.S. worked to counter the threat of terrorism around the world. 

“The Selflessness of Veterans Serves as an Inspiration for All Americans.”

Veterans Day is a chance for our Nation to reset – to pause and honor those who served and recognize their sacrifices to ensure the freedom and safety of others. 

“Our Men and Women in Uniform have Devoted their Lives to Preserving the Freedoms Our Constitution Affords Us.”

Veterans Day is more than another federal holiday. It provides everyone in our nation — both servicemembers and civilians — an opportunity to honor those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms. 

“We have an Obligation to Serve Those Who Served and Sacrificed For Us.”

We have an obligation to serve those who served and sacrificed for us. And in such divided times, it is more important than ever to set aside political partisanship and put our veterans and servicemembers first.  

Every American Should Serve for a Year

It’s time to rethink the path to success for our nation’s youth and rebuild trust along the way by prioritizing opportunities that bring people from different backgrounds together through a shared goal and common purpose. 

The False Promise of Universal National Service

It is magical thinking that the state can round up 18-year-olds, march them, like Mao’s Red Guards, across America, and turn them into moral, caring, selfless adults committed to national unity and other liberal verities.  

“We have an Obligation to Serve Those Who Served and Sacrificed For Us.”

Fewer than 0.5% of our population serves in our military. Answering the call to service is something few have done, but each of our veterans have made us a stronger, safer, and more free nation. Not many of our fellow Americans have put on the uniform, but those who did have ensured we have remained the greatest country in the world. As members of Congress, and as their fellow Americans, we have an obligation to serve those who served and sacrificed for us. And in such divided times, it is more important than ever to set aside political partisanship and put our veterans and servicemembers first.  

One area where Congress can work together is by helping veterans achieve prosperity and success when they return to civilian life. Everyone deserves the chance at the American Dream, and one way we can help veterans achieve theirs is through homeownership. To do so, we must eliminate barriers for veterans who wish to buy a home. This is why I joined Rep. Mike Levin, a Democrat from California, to introduce H.R. 8758, the Building Credit Access for Veterans Act. Our bipartisan and bicameral bill seeks to expand credit options for veterans and members of the Armed Forces who are eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) housing loans and have an insufficient credit history.  

Credit is a fundamental part of buying a home, and when trying to build credit, many military families face unique circumstances. The Building Credit Access for Veterans Act requires the VA to evaluate the use of alternative credit scoring information or models to improve the determination of creditworthiness of individuals who are able to obtain VA housing and small business loans. Allowing servicemembers and veterans to utilize alternative credit sources, such as proof of rent, utility, and insurance payment histories, to access VA loans will help put the dream of owning a home within reach for more of America’s heroes. 

It is more important than ever to set aside political partisanship and put our veterans and servicemembers first. 

Another key part of transitioning to civilian life is ensuring success for our veterans by connecting departing servicemembers to in-demand skills training and prospective employers who are ready to hire. Since 2011, The Department of Defense SkillBridge program has been an opportunity for servicemembers to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. Working with my colleagues across the aisle, we passed the Transition for Success Act, which expands access to the SkillBridge program by allowing all National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to participate in the program upon departing military service.  

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2019 found that only one in four veterans said they had a civilian job lined up after they left the military. Expanding this critical program to Reservists and Guard members will ensure that each of our veterans has the opportunity to succeed after service. 

These are two meaningful ways that we are working across party lines on behalf of our veterans. Helping them successfully transition to civilian life and making it easier to own a home ensures our veterans are one step closer to achieving the American Dream. In Washington, I am working hard to make the dream a reality for more and more of America’s veterans.  

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” I believe this quote, though spoken many years ago, remains as a call to action to this day, especially as a lawmaker. No matter how much time passes, we must always take the time to honor those who served our country.  

Members of Congress have an obligation to fulfill the promises made to our veterans, no matter which political party we belong to.  

William Timmons represents the 4th District of South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He serves as a JAG Officer and Captain in the South Carolina Air National Guard.