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November 11, 2019 | In The News

OPINION EDITORIAL: Veterans keep serving

Florida is lucky to be home to over 1.5 million veterans. This Veterans Day, we honor their service and sacrifice on behalf of our nation. As a veteran, I know firsthand the importance of service in our Armed Forces, and I hope all Floridians will join me today in thanking a veteran.

Any veteran will tell you that military service is a transformative experience that has a lasting impact on one’s life. I am proud to see so many fellow veterans utilize these experiences to continue serving in their communities as local leaders, elected officials, first responders, or business owners.

These veterans bring with them a commitment to service above self and a promise to promote and defend the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation.

When veterans raise their right hand and solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, they are welcomed into an age-old order of servant leaders who have defended our nation for generations. Taking that oath was one of the most profound events of my life, and I look back on it often, especially now that I am operating under a different but similar oath as a member of Congress.

As a veteran and a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have spent much of my time in Congress meeting with veterans across my district and learning about the issues they are facing. At my town hall event in North Port this summer, I heard from many veterans who expressed frustration with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the inadequate care they were receiving.

These stories echoed those of veterans from around my district and even my own experience with our local VA clinics.

It is clear that veterans here in Florida and across our country are not receiving the care they deserve, so I have been focused on fixing this broken system. I have questioned many senior VA officials about their specialist referral practices, staffing issues at local facilities, and systemic issues with the compensation and pension examination process. I am also working on a comprehensive reform package that will give veterans a True Choice when making healthcare decisions, including the ability to select local providers if services are not offered by a local VA facility.

My True Choice legislation will join five other pieces of veteran-related legislation I have introduced during my first year in Congress. This legislation includes a bill to ensure that veterans participating in state-approved medical marijuana programs are not denied VA benefits, as well as a bill that gives veterans the ability to use GI Bill benefits on previously incurred student loan debt, which I will officially file tomorrow on the House floor in honor of Veterans Day. I am excited about the potential these bills have to move forward and positively impact the lives of veterans here in Florida and across the United States.

Our veterans have given so much to our community and our country, and they deserve to be honored — not just today, but every day.

Please join me in thanking a veteran today and saying a prayer for those who are still fighting to keep our country safe.

Congressman Greg Steube represents Florida’s 17th Congressional District including all of Highlands, Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee and Okeechobee counties, as well as portions of Lee, Polk and Sarasota counties.