Friday, November 12, 2010

U.S. Sen. Harkin: Ensuring our veterans receive the benefits they deserve

By Senator Tom Harkin

Every year on Veterans Day, Americans take the time to give our millions of brave veterans the honor and thanks they deserve. We thank those who have served out of love of country, and a desire to protect the rights that we prize so dearly. As a veteran myself, I am humbled by the gratitude that is shown on this day, but am even more humbled by the sacrifices that so many other veterans and their families have made and continue to make.

Ensuring that our veterans receive the care, services and recognition they deserve has been a top priority of mine in Congress, and we have had a few important successes in this area in recent years. We fixed a problem that shortchanged 600 Iowa National Guard service members from receiving their earned leave; ensured those serving after 9/11 would qualify for reduced-age eligibility for the receipt of non-regular service retired pay; helped to secure military medals for those whose recognition is long overdue; and recognized Veterans of Iowa’s Meskwaki tribe, who played a historic role in World War II by using their native language as the basis for creating unbreakable codes and communicating messages in combat.

And because of the disproportionately high rates of suicide among those returning from the battlefield, I worked alongside other members to pass into law the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, named after Joshua Omvig, a soldier from Grundy Center who took his own life after returning from Iraq. It is an important step towards improving the mental health of our veterans.


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