November 11, 2013

Keeping Our Promise

Today is a special day to remember the men and women of our armed forces who've fought to keep our nation free. On Veterans Day, I'm honored to join New Mexicans and all Americans in paying tribute to these heroes.

We have a proud tradition of U.S. military service in New Mexico dating back to the Civil War. This service includes the Navajo Code Talkers. The Defenders of Bataan. Those who fought in Europe and the Pacific to stop fascism, who held the line in Korea, who endured jungle warfare in Vietnam and who braved the deserts of Iraq.

We also remember those who are still serving. Our troops overseas wake up far from home, away from their families, to stand the watch and do the job they promised to do.

As we remember their sacrifices, let us never forget the debt of gratitude we owe them - not just today, but every day.

Our veterans have kept their promise to the nation, and we must keep ours. Keeping that promise is not just an obligation, it is a privilege.

That's why I was proud to sponsor the Burn Pits Registry Act to provide vital research and specialized care to veterans exposed to environmental hazards in Iraq and Afghanistan. The act was signed into law earlier this year and the VA is now in the process of finalizing the registry, and I will continue making sure it becomes a reality for the servicemen and women, and their families, who have fought so hard for it.

As I travel our state, I also hear about the challenges our rural veterans face in getting health care. Challenges of long distances, of turnover doctors and nurses, and of struggling with PTSD and other mental health issues. I have taken these voices to top administration officials in Washington and will soon introduce a bill to help veterans living in rural and highly rural areas get better care. None of our veterans-including over 6 million living in rural areas-should be left behind.

I will also continue pushing to speed up the disability claims process for veterans. They have been kept too long waiting for care, and that has to change.

As long as I have the privilege of representing our veterans, I will never stop working to ensure they receive the benefits they have earned, and the support they deserve.

To all the veterans in New Mexico and those serving around the world, and to your families, thank you for your courage and your sacrifice.