Tipton: Remembering the fallen and honoring their sacrifice beyond Memorial Day (column)
In the heart of our nation’s capital, the National World War II Memorial is a moving tribute to the members of the Greatest Generation who answered the call to duty when our nation — and the world — needed them most. At this monument, an inscription reads:
“They fought together as brothers-in-arms.
They died together and now they sleep side by side.
To them we have a solemn obligation.”
This memorial, and the Vietnam and Korean War memorials on the National Mall, solemnly reminds visitors of the great sacrifices made in defense of our nation and of freedom around the world.
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On Monday, May 28, we were thinking about all the brave Americans we have lost and of their families. One American hero that I have been thinking of lately, and remembered this Memorial Day, is Army Specialist Gabriel Conde from Colorado. Gabe Conde was tragically killed by enemy fire last month while serving in Afghanistan.
Those who knew him say he was passionate about protecting those who needed it most. If we are to ask ourselves why the United States of America continues to be the greatest nation in the world, then it is because of the character of Americans such as Gabe Conde.
The death of any American soldier is a tragic reminder of the dangers that service members face when they are on foreign soil. I believe that one of the best ways to honor these fallen heroes is by continuing to ensure that their comrades in arms have the tools and resources they need to carry out their duty as safely as possible.
The House took a major step to do just that recently by passing the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.
This act will provide defense funding to rebuild the military and ensure preparedness, which will help provide American troops with the equipment and training they need to succeed in their missions and return home safely. Additionally, it will give our troops the highest pay raise in nine years, which they absolutely deserve and need to take care of their families.
Another fitting way to honor the fallen is to guarantee that their fellow soldiers are taken care of once they have finished their service. That’s why I was happy to see Congress pass and send the VA MISSION Act to the president’s desk this week. This innovative bill, which focuses on veterans’ health care, includes a provision from my bill, the Veterans Improved Access and Care Act, which will expand access to medical care for veterans and reduce wait times within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system.
Under current law, a veteran can only use the Choice program if he or she lives more than 40 miles from a VA facility or is facing more than a 30-day wait for an appointment. The VA MISSION Act strikes the 40-mile, 30-day rule to ensure all veterans have access to the care they need when they need it. We are continuing to work on improving veteran health care and hold the VA accountable at every level.
While this Memorial Day was an important day to pay tribute to the Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation, we must also remember that we have a responsibility to honor them year-round. We can do this by making sure that the troops have everything they need to successfully do their jobs and that veterans receive benefits that they have rightfully earned.
I remain committed to this goal, and my office stands ready to help so please do not hesitate to reach out if you have comments or suggestions. God bless our troops, their families and God bless America.
U.S. Rep Scott R. Tipton represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.