May 31, 1999
Senator John McCain
It is an honor to send you greetings and best wishes on Memorial Day. It was not until I was a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy that I fully appreciated the virtues of a country and a people committed to the care of its veterans. After returning from Vietnam, many of us who served there received medical treatment and, perhaps more importantly, the healing that comes from care at the hands of countless, nameless individuals in the service of America. Today, as the airstrikes in Kosovo continue, the nation is taken not only with the urgent national mission that is war, but also with many domestic concerns --the need to save Social Security, violence in our schools, the ever increasing tax burden, the volatile stock market. But America's obligation to its veterans, unlike the price of shares on Wall Street, cannot and should not rise and fall depending on how good the times may be.
We have proudly worn the uniform of our country; as a result, we perceive the veteran to be an individual of character with a proven devotion to duty, honor, and country. The challenge today is to remind our children's generation of why we are proud to call ourselves veterans in a society that sometimes seems not to care. I tell audiences around the country to stop the next time they see some young man or woman in uniform, usually in an airport or train station, walk up to them and say "Thanks for serving." It means a lot to them.
I do not need to remind you that many, many Americans do care. And despite the declining ranks in Congress of Members with military experience, many do support our veterans. In the current 106th Congress, I am proud to be an original sponsor or co-sponsor of legislation to boost retirement benefits and increase educational opportunities for veterans; legislation to increase the V.A. budget by $2 billion more than the President's request; legislation to provide special pay to severely disabled retired veterans; legislation to improve health care at V.A. facilities around the country; legislation to authorize construction of a disabled veterans memorial; and legislation to take better care of homeless veterans.
An area of particular concern to me, and one of the most pressing issues we face today, is ensuring proper medical care for our veterans. I will continue to support proposals to provide quality care for all of America's veterans. Our nation has just begun an historic debate about how to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare, the entitlement programs from which all Americans benefit. As we approach this task, we must ensure that we defend the interests of our veterans as vigorously as they have defended ours. America has made a commitment to her veterans, and I will continue to insist that we honor that commitment.
Thank you for your honorable service to this country.
Copyright © 1999-2003
Harris-Ferry Chapter, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution