“I Think First and Foremost of Those I Served Alongside.”
In the wake of 9/11, President George W. Bush addressed the Nation saying: “I have a message for our military: Be ready. I’ve called the Armed Forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.”
The President’s call for all able-bodied men and women to fight against terrorism jumpstarted my story as a veteran. I never had a desire to serve in the military, but during my time in law school at the University of Florida, two planes hit the Twin Towers and everything changed. I felt that this moment was my generation’s call to serve our country and that those who were able to fight shouldn’t stand by.
On Veterans Day each year, I think first and foremost of those I served alongside in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was an incredible honor and opportunity to serve our country as the U.S. worked to counter the threat of terrorism around the world.
My experience in the military informs my decisions daily as a Member of Congress on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I’m honored to represent more than 75,000 veterans in Southwest Florida and take seriously my responsibility, as their voice in Washington, to alleviate some of the challenges our veteran community faces. While the Democrats are wiping student loan debt without merit, I’m working to modernize the G.I. Bill to allow veterans to use their post-9/11 educational assistance to repay federal student loans incurred prior to military service.
My experience in the military informs my decisions daily as a Member of Congress on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
I’m also honored that my Free Veterans from Fees Act passed the House this Congress, which would remove burdensome red tape and fees for veterans hosting special events at war memorials. I’ve worked for several years in Congress to allow our veterans to have true choice when it comes to their health care. As someone who uses the VA system, I have been afforded unique understanding into what our veterans go through every day. My legislation, the Veterans True Choice Act, would expand health insurance options for disabled veterans and enable service-connected veterans the ability to use TRICARE Select and TRICARE for Life and not be forced into a VA system that doesn’t work for all and leaves veterans behind.
While it’s important on Veterans Day to recognize the critical needs of our veteran community not yet met, it’s also important we celebrate all that veterans contribute. Some of the most dedicated public servants across the country once wore the uniform and continue to have a large footprint in our communities.
I’d be remiss not to mention the power of veterans in my district these past weeks. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, we’ve seen countless volunteer groups sending supplies and manpower to SW Florida. Among them is Team Rubicon, a group of former military veterans who are helping Floridians clear debris, muck out homes, and tarp roofs. Their mission statement is ‘helping people on their worst day,’ and I think that phrase captures the true sense of service every veteran feels. Those who served our country in uniform know that service does not stop at discharge.
Over the past year we saw that exemplified on a large scale after our own government failed in the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal. Veterans who left the military years ago volunteered to evacuate Americans and our vulnerable allies from behind Taliban lines. These individuals went far beyond the call of duty to do what was right. Service exposes military members to different government systems around the world. It creates a deep appreciation for America and a duty to help whenever possible.
It is my hope that Americans never forget to say ‘thank you’ to each and every one of the veterans in our lives.
This Veterans Day, I’ll be visiting the Sarasota National Cemetery to honor the thousands of Veterans buried in the heart of Florida’s 17th Congressional District. This cemetery holds a dear place in my heart as the site of my grandfather’s burial. He served our country honorably during World War II in the U.S. Navy and instilled in our family the duty to country and duty to our community that has lived on through generations.
It is my hope that Americans never forget to say “thank you” to each and every one of the veterans in our lives. Our country is a beacon of freedom and liberty. We owe that to the men and women who voluntarily put their lives on hold for the betterment of our country. I also encourage everyone to view the Library of Congress Veterans History Projects. My office is honored to participate year-round by sharing the first-hand accounts of Florida’s former military members. Their stories are a treasured piece of our country’s history, spanning decades through both world conflicts and peacetime.
Greg Steube represents the 17th District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives. Immediately after graduating from the University of Florida with both undergraduate and law degrees, he answered the call to serve in the War on Terror following the September 11th attacks. Enlisting in the U.S. Army, Greg served with distinction from 2004 to 2008 as an Airborne Infantry Officer and a JAG Corps Officer. He also served as the Chief of Detainee Operations for Multinational Division North in Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-2007.