Archived: A Veterans Day Message of Thanks

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This Veterans Day, I join our community and the nation in observance of this patriotic day of tribute to remember and thank all of our men and women in uniform, past and present, who have bravely served and protected our country.

To honor their contributions, I am proud Congress took significant steps in recent months to provide our 23.8 million veterans with additional services and benefits.

On June 30, the new GI Bill of the 21st Century was signed into law. This legislation provides our soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the tools they need to succeed after military service. For those who have served three years on active duty since September 11, 2001, the new GI Bill covers their costs of a four-year education up to the level of the most expensive in-state public tuition. They would also receive a monthly stipend of approximately $1,000 for living expenses and $1,000 annually for books. In addition, a service member’s unused educational benefits can also be transferred to their spouse after he or she completes at least six years of service and commits to serve an additional four years. They can also elect to transfer the unused educational benefits to their children after 10 years of service. The benefits under the measure are payable for educational training pursued on or after August 1, 2009. More information about this comprehensive law is available at www.gibill.va.gov

The original GI bill, passed in June of 1944 during World War II, sparked widespread economic growth for a whole generation of Americans. It made a free college education available to more than 15 million returning war veterans. It paid the full cost of tuition at any public or private college or university. By 1956, about 8 million World War II veterans had taken advantage of the GI bill education and training benefit, including some of our nation’s greatest leaders. According to a congressional study, the original GI bill returned $7 to the economy for every $1 spent.

As with our World War II veterans, I am confident the new GI Bill for the 21st Century will help make America’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans part of a new American economic recovery. Educated veterans have higher income levels, which contribute to our national prosperity. Our great nation has never gone wrong when it has made sustained new investments in higher education and job training.

The final passage into law of the new GI Bill for the 21st Century is one of my proudest moments of the 110th Congress. Considering that many of our troops have served two, three, or more tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, we owe it to these men and women to afford them the many opportunities our nation has to offer.

I was also pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in supporting passage of the FY2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. Last year, we enacted the largest increase in funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the 77-year history of the agency. The 2009 bill builds on that investment by providing further increases for veterans’ medical care, claims processors, and VA medical facility improvements.

In addition to my support and advocacy to pass major federal legislation for our veterans, my district caseworkers are always ready to help veterans living in the 34th Congressional District and other members of the community navigate the bureaucracy of federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Social Security Administration. Please visit my web site at www.house.gov/roybal-allard or call my district office at (213) 628-1821 for more information.

On behalf of an indebted nation, I thank our veterans this Veterans Day, and every day, for their dedicated service to our country. I also thank their loved ones for the hardships and the sacrifices they too endure. Together, they truly embody the selfless patriotism that keeps America strong and free.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), which includes parts of the East Los Angeles, Huntington Park, Bell Gardens, Commerce and Vernon.

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