In 1999, my good friend, the late Sen. John McCain, introduced legislation to designate the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month. Twenty years later, we continue to use this monthlong opportunity to recognize and honor the service of more than 23 million current and former members of the U.
S. Armed Forces. For many, this may mean thanking a family member, a friend, or a neighbor for the time they spent away from loved ones defending this great country. For me, I think about my father-in-law who flew reconnaissance in World War II in the Pacific theater, and my brother-in-law Rocky Davidson, who flew Navy reconnaissance planes in Vietnam, and also about my friends who made the ultimate sacrifice.
My own time in the Georgia Air National Guard taught me just how important it is that our service members overseas have the full support of the U.S. government, including the equipment and resources necessary to be successful both during combat and when they return home.
Throughout my 20 years of service in Congress, I have been committed to fulfilling this mission. As chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have the unique opportunity to work on legislation that directly benefits our military.
I have been a strong advocate of raising pay for our troops, increasing their basic housing allowances, and making improvements to the retirement benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves. These types of initiatives are intended to improve readiness and quality of life for our all-volunteer force.
Most importantly, the number one way that we in Congress can show our appreciation for our military is through full funding and support for their missions. During a recent trip to Iraq, while I talked with U.S. service members from Georgia and other states about their experiences, I was struck by the bravery and dedication of these men and women in uniform.
We live in a world of unknown and dangerous threats, and we depend upon our Armed Forces who voluntarily answer the call to serve and defend our nation against all enemies. When they join the most elite force on this planet, they know they will spend countless months away from their families and even come face-to-face with evil forces that wish to do us harm.
Just as these troops have dedicated their lives to serving our country, we must be equally dedicated to ensuring they are taken care of when they return. Now in my fifth year as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am focused on guaranteeing the Department of Veterans Affairs rises to the challenge of implementing significant reforms to improve veterans’ healthcare and ensure we are always serving the best interests of our veterans.
. Today, the VA is fundamentally changing the service they deliver for the better. Legislation I authored,.....