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!

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

America has the greatest military in the world, bar none. Our men and women are well trained, equipped, and prepared for battle. We revere our heroes who serve and sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy here at home. But what happens when they come back from that service?

We look at those service members from the Greatest Generation with awe, admiration, and a longing for that patriotism we feel when we think about their righteous battles against Nazi Germany. We remember the Forgotten War heroes of the Korean War and our Vietnam veterans with such respect and gratitude for all they endured, and with the latter, we try to make up for the hostile return home they received back then.

For those who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and around the world in the War on Terror, their return home is different because the times we live in are different. As a nation, we need to address the issues and the stigmas that far too many of our veterans face.

It’s hard to fully describe the relationships you build with your brothers and sisters in uniform.

The advancements in technology and medicine are incredible, but both have very real drawbacks. The internet is a great tool for connecting us through social media and providing access to veteran health benefits and resources. But as we all know, social media has its downsides. Veterans can feel especially isolated from their battlefield experience when they reintegrate into civilian life. Their mission is over and the message they see when they get back is that life moved on without them. Our service members need that renewed sense of purpose when returning home, and one of the ways to fill that void is a career and community involvement. Without question, the skills they learned in the military are transferable to civilian jobs.

In Congress, I’m working to remove qualification barriers and improve the hiring process for these jobs. For example, our health emergency services nationwide are struggling to keep up with the opioid crisis. This shortage of EMTs can be mitigated by helping states streamline the requirements and procedures to hire veterans with military EMT training. This is a perfect job for a veteran who has dedicated his or her life to serving others, and a major asset to the communities grappling with this drug epidemic.

The opioid crisis is a very real concern, and it affects nearly everyone. The advancements in medicine have been incredible in many respects, but we need to realize the dangers and risks for drug abuse, misuse, and addiction — especially when it comes to opioids.

Our veterans returning home from the battlefield are often vulnerable, and while medication is necessary for some, it’s not necessary for all. Veteran suicide is a very real and tragic reality. Rather than pushing medication on patients, we need to come at this issue from a more holistic approach.

Lieutenant Colonel Kinzinger with fellow airmen in his Wisconsin unit.

Last Congress, we passed landmark opioids legislation (H.R. 6), and I was proud to have my legislation included in the final package. The Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act allows us to find alternate methods of treating pain through innovation by making Medicare and Medicaid more flexible, adaptable, and focused on preventing (and treating) addiction. Another avenue to tackle this issue is through community.

I firmly believe community is the most critical part of returning home from the military, and for those struggling with opioid addiction, suicidal thoughts, depression, and beyond. Having a support network and a sense of belonging is important to all of us. It’s in our human nature to be loyal to a tribe, to a community. Being in the military, you have that tribe and it’s instinctive. It’s hard to fully describe the relationships you build with your brothers and sisters in uniform, but when you are removed from that world, that tribe, it can be a shock to the system and hard to manage alone.

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

So, as we evaluate how best to help our veterans in the 21st century, I believe community is key. I’m grateful for the advancements in technology that connect us to military podcasts like Zero Blog Thirty and Team Never Quit, where we can tune in and relate to our fellow veterans. I’m grateful for the advancements in medicine that help veterans struggling with PTS and suicidal thoughts. I’m grateful for the advancements in both these fields combined that make it possible for wounded veterans to walk or run with prosthetics, and for reaching our veterans in rural areas through telemedicine. These are all important and hugely helpful to making sure we are there for our nation’s heroes.

But let’s also remember that these men and women are strong, courageous, and battle-tested. They don’t need to be coddled or overly medicated. We undoubtedly owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans and their families. And we need to be there for them on both the battlefield and back at home.

We can and must do more to support our veterans and guide them back into civilian life with that renewed sense of purpose. Having one another’s back is the crux of a tribe, and as a community, we must ensure our veterans know that they are not alone.

Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th Congressional District of Illinois. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 2003, Kinzinger served in the Air Force in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He continues to serve his country as a pilot in the Air National Guard, with the current rank of Lieutenant Colonel.