Our annual observance of Veterans Day is an occasion to honor the millions of men and women who have served with honor and distinction in our nation's Armed Forces, through times of war and in times of peace. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect upon the significance of one of our most solemn national holidays.
The United States owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to our military veterans who have defended our country through their service in the Armed Forces. Part of this debt is to care for those who have risked their lives to defend our freedom. On March 3, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation establishing a sanctuary for injured Union soldiers and sailors of the Civil War, which was named the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The next day, President Lincoln eloquently expressed the nation’s obligation to care for our veterans and their survivors at the conclusion of his Second Inaugural Address:
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Veterans Administration as an independent agency. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover issued an executive order consolidating an assortment of veterans’ agencies, including the Soldiers Home and the Bureau of Pensions, under a single department. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush elevated the Veterans Administration to a Cabinet-level status, with the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). President Lincoln’s call “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan,” was adopted by VA as the Department's motto. These words are engraved in stone at the entrance to the headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC.
The Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center is one of the three original Soldiers Homes established by President Lincoln, and it is one of the oldest VA facilities in the United States. It opened in 1867 and became known as the “Mother Home,” because it served as the model for future facilities that were constructed by the government to provide care for disabled veterans. The Dayton VA has provided continuous service to Ohio’s veterans for 143 years, upholding our nation’s promise to deliver the best possible care for America’s wounded warriors. I have toured the Dayton VA Medical Center on several occasions. I am committed to protecting the high level of services and standards that veterans from the Dayton area have come to expect from this facility. I fought to ensure that the Dayton VA’s Community Living Center, which was slated for closure, remained open, and worked to secure additional funds for a state-of-the-art renovation. Today, this facility continues to serve Miami Valley veterans and their families.
As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I understand and appreciate the important contributions made to our national security by our service members, military retirees, and their families. Honoring our commitment as a nation to our veterans who endured the rigorous conditions of military service to secure our freedoms and protect our national interests is, and will remain, one of my top priorities. Please join me on Veterans Day, November 11th, in expressing thanks to our fellow Americans who have risked their lives to protect our freedom through their service in the United States Armed Forces.