Observe Memorial Day with pride & reflection

by U.S. Representative Bob Etheridge

This Memorial Day 2010 America pays tribute to its sons and daughters who have died in combat.

We rightfully recognize their courage and valor as a reminder that our freedom in America is not free–it comes at a price. This price is often paid by military men and women in time away from their families, personal sacrifice, loss of limbs or health, and many times, loss of life.

America has hundreds of thousands of soldiers deployed worldwide protecting the principles we hold dear. I ask everyone in North Carolina to take the time on this day to thank and support our active-duty Armed Forces members, Guard and reserve members and our veterans.

Over the past decade, we have mobilized our active duty forces, our reserves, and our National Guard as never before. Our nation’s soldiers have not faltered, and their families have steadfastly stood by them. It is our duty to stand by them as well, and I have been working in Congress to address the needs of veterans and give them additional support. In recognition of their many sacrifices, I have supported increasing military pay, improving housing and base infrastructure, and increasing funding for veteran’s health and services.

As a member of the House Committee on the Budget, I helped write a 2010 Budget Resolution that makes our veterans a top priority. This Budget Resolution expands access to doctors and nurses, to dramatically improve healthcare for more than 5 million veterans, including the 382,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget also provides expanded mental health screening and treatment for the signature injuries of the war, PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

The economic downturn has placed financial difficulties squarely at the doorstep of our veterans, and I’ve worked hard in Congress to address their needs. I voted to increase military pay by 3.4 percent and expand TRICARE health benefits, and we are building more military early childhood centers and better military housing. I also supported legislation to help struggling military families stay in their homes, prohibiting foreclosures and extending low-interest lending through the VA, and a bill to make sure that soldiers can take advantage of homeowner tax credits.

As one of the relatively few Members of Congress who has served in the United States military, I believe we should remember our brave sons and daughters who serve every day. As we honor the fallen on Memorial Day, I ask that God bless our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the world, and that God continue to bless America.