Tipton: Honoring our nation’s fallen heroes
Author: Scott Tipton - May 29, 2017 - Updated: May 29, 2017
As a member of Congress, I have the unique opportunity to visit the memorials dedicated to fallen service members that are just a short distance from the Capitol building. Across the Potomac River, Arlington National Cemetery serves as the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of men and women who served in the armed services. Each day I work in Washington, I am reminded that the privilege we have of living in a free society has been paid by so many who have selflessly sacrificed their lives in service to their country. Memorial Day offers an important opportunity for us to reflect and pay our respects to those who have given all.
Last year, Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District lost a highly respected member of its community when Blue Angle pilot, Marine Corps Cpt. Jeff Kuss, was tragically killed in a training accident in Smyrna, Tennessee. Kuss worked his entire life to become a fighter pilot, and his death serves as a reminder of the dangers our service members face, not only in combat, but each day they serve. We must not lose sight of the risks that our military service members make when they wear the uniform.
Active duty troops are not the only ones at risk. Our nation’s veterans also continue to face barriers to care due to the red tape and bureaucracy within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). So far this year, Congress has acted to improve our veterans’ care by passing several bills that will bring much needed reform to the VA, including the VA Accountability First Act (H.R. 1259), and H.R. 1367, which is a measure to improve the VA Secretary’s authority to retain physicians and other VA employees. Streamlining the hiring process of VA employees will help ensure veterans receive quality care when they return to civilian life.
Tragically, nearly 20 veterans fall victim to suicide each day. This statistic is both shocking and sad. Veterans are placed into dangerous situations both on deployments and in training, and the hardships of adjusting to everyday civilian life often go ignored. But we cannot allow for our veterans to feel neglected by society. We must give our veterans confidence that we — as a country — will offer them the help they need. Our veterans deserve a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid, but we must remain strong in our commitment to support veterans when they return home.
Memorial Day is a somber reminder of how many people have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation safe. Since our founding, we have relied on brave men and women to answer the call of duty and defend our nation. They have sacrificed their lives so that their families can live in a free country. I encourage everyone to take time out of their busy schedules to give thanks to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great nation. I thank God every day for the blessings bestowed on us, and I will continue to pray for the safety of our troops and their families.