America’s veterans embody the ideals upon which America was founded more than 229 years ago. Since the Revolution, eight generations of America’s veterans have established an unbroken commitment to freedom. This Veterans Day, we will honor more than 25 million living veterans and the memory of those patriots who came before them. With pride, we remember each soldier, Marine, sailor, airman and Coast Guardsman who has served our country by taking up arms when called by our nation in a time of need. The sacrifices ordinary American men and women from communities large and small have been willing to make, often before they were past their teenage years, have secured our nation unprecedented freedoms and made us the world’s bulwark of liberty. Veterans Day celebrates what began as Armistice Day, marking on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the end of the bloody cataclysm known as World War I, the "war to end all wars." The young patriots now returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan and other deployments worldwide are joining the ranks of veterans to whom America owes an immense debt of gratitude. For those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we are grateful that such men and women were among us. For those who continue to serve, we honor their commitment. For those who return to civilian life, we honor their service. Our greatest privilege and responsibility as leaders of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is to provide our veterans with a system that cares for their wounds and ensures that they have an opportunity to succeed. Every member of the committee shares that calling. Our nation has kept faith with its veterans. Funding for veterans health care and benefits is strong, and has increased more than 75 percent in the last decade. VA health care is now synonymous with world-class quality. An expansion of community-based outpatient clinics is enhancing access to care, especially for rural veterans. Yet, we must never stop looking for ways to improve the services we provide veterans. Our commitment to America’s veterans is to provide them with a system that offers first-rate health care and a system of benefits that is administered fairly, swiftly, and consistently. Service members returning from war deserve a "seamless" transition from the military into the VA health care and benefits system. Our pledge to each veteran is to make that happen; when they took the oath, service members volunteered to uphold the Constitution, not fight jealous bureaucracies. And so, at the appointed hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, let us recall the precious service our veterans have rendered us and then let us renew our obligation to them. May God bless our veterans and may God bless America. Congressman Steve Buyer, R-Ind., is Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. A 1980 distinguished military graduate of The Citadel, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve as a Medical Service Corps officer. After graduation from Valparaiso Law School, Congressman Buyer transferred to the Judge Advocate General Corps and was called to active duty for three years. Upon his release from active duty, Congressman Buyer returned to Indiana to practice law in his hometown of Monticello. In 1990, with three days notice, Congressman Buyer closed his law practice to serve on active duty in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Congressman Buyer continues to serve as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
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