Honoring and Supporting Veterans — Today and Every Day
This Veterans Day, I am reflecting on the service and sacrifice of our veterans not only when they served our country in uniform, but also after they come home. Veterans play a vital role in supporting our communities here at home and exemplifying American values, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they have the support that they need and have earned.
Long after their time in uniform, many veterans continue to give back — going to extraordinary lengths to better their communities and also to honor their fellow men and women in uniform. Maurice Mailhot of Berlin is just one example of that. Maurice is a Granite State veteran who served in the Korean War and was awarded two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars as a result of his bravery and valor.
Last year, his fellow VFW members asked Maurice to lead and coordinate efforts to redesign Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Berlin. At the age of 90, and one of the oldest members of the group, Maurice could’ve said no and enjoyed his well-deserved retirement, but instead, he not only organized the redesign, but almost single-handedly completed the construction himself.
Maurice carries on a spirit of service that we see from veterans in New Hampshire and all across our country.
As we celebate with parades and tributes in communities across the Granite State, it is important for us to recognize that that we owe our veterans, service members and their families a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay, but that we must always try and work to ensure that our country is ever-worthy of their service.
That starts with ensuring that our country is there for our veterans — just as they have been there for all of us. As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am working to ensure that veterans, service members, and their families have the care and support that they need. And it is encouraging to see that when it comes to supporting veterans, members of both parties recognize that there is no room for partisanship.
One critical piece is strengthening access to mental health resources. The Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation that I introduced to designate one week per year as “Buddy Check Week” to organize outreach events and educate veterans on how to conduct peer wellness checks, building off of a successful American Legion program. And the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee recently passed my bipartisan bill to strengthen a program started under the previous administration to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs contacts every veteran three times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty to check in and help connect them to VA programs and benefits.
I have also focused on ensuring that our reverence for veterans and service members is not just reserved for one day. I have heard from New Hampshire Gold Star families and veterans of the Global War on Terrorism about how important it would be to create a Global War on Terrorism Monument on the National Mall — and have partnered with Republican Senator Joni Ernst to introduce legislation to make that a reality. This memorial will give generations of Americans a sacred place to reflect, gather, and honor those who gave so much to protect our country and our freedom.
Beyond this work, as we mark Veterans Day, we must also reflect on and recommit ourselves to the values that all veterans have fought for. At a time when we see far too much division, it’s important to remember that our nation’s veterans answered the call to serve their fellow citizens without regard to walk of life or political party. They stood guard, fought, and sacrificed simply because — and always because — we are Americans, and because freedom, liberty, and justice are worth fighting for.
I am inspired by how much veterans have sacrificed over the course of our nation’s history to ensure that every American could have the opportunity to be safe, secure, and free. And I am inspired to see how much they give back to their communities long after their service.
This Veterans Day — and every day — we must recommit to supporting the veterans who have served our country, and we strive to live up to the example that they have set.