Congresswoman Richardson Honors Our Veterans, Service Members and Fallen Heroes for Their Sacrifices for and Dedication to Democracy
Each year on Memorial Day, Americans come together to remember the sacrifices made by those who have put their lives on the line in defense of our beloved country. As the protectors of our freedom and democracy, these heroes are owed an immeasurable debt. We would not enjoy the liberties we have today if not for the sacrifices of the women and men who have served as soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their families.
On this Memorial Day, we continue to be engaged in hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and young women and men continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the uniform of our nation. We owe it to their families to remember the 4,400 Americans who have died in Iraq and the more than 1,000 who have died in Afghanistan; those who have been wounded, including 31,000 in Iraq and the 5,700 in Afghanistan; and the more than 400,000 who have been deployed to those two conflicts.
In the diverse 37th Congressional District, nearly 35,000 veterans who have served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the Persian Gulf War reside, enriching the lives of their families and communities and serving as living reminders of the sacrifices that have been made to keep our nation free.
I am committed as the elected representative for these true American heroes to make sure that their needs are met and their sacrifices and dedication is not forgotten. In response to the needs of our veterans and their families, I have worked with my colleagues in Congress to enact important measures to expand educational opportunity and economic relief to our veterans. The "Post 9-11 GI Bill," which took effect in August, restores the promise of a full four-year college education, allowing up to two million of our brave service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to be active participants of a new American economic recovery, just like after World War II.
In recognizing that many veterans have returned home in the last few years to find high unemployment levels, I voted in Congress to enact incentives for businesses to hire unemployed veterans. And, as part of the Recovery Act, Congress has provided nearly two million disabled veterans with a $250 payment to help make ends meet.
Many of our brave service men and women have served multiple tours of duty, putting an even greater strain on their families at a substantial cost to their financial futures. In response, in Congress we have acted to provide special $500 payments for every month 185,000 service members and veterans were forced to serve under stop-loss orders since 2000.
In addition, this year we increased military pay 3.4 percent and expanded TRICARE health benefits. We are also building more military childcare centers and better barracks and military family housing.
All of these are well-deserved benefits for our greatest Americans; but we are committed to do much more, after all just look at how much they have done for us!
Congresswoman Richardson is a Democrat from California's 37th Congressional District. She is a member of the House Committees on Transportation & Infrastructure and Homeland Security. Her district includes Long Beach, Compton, Carson, Watts, Willowbrook and Signal Hill. She is chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response.