For the past 100 years, this nation has honored the men and women who served in uniform on Veterans Day and we’ll do the same this Monday, Nov. 11, for the 101st time.
Obviously it’s nice that retailers and restaurants offer freebies and discounts that day but our gratitude for veterans’ service should be substantive too. In recent months it appears our elected officials are making meaningful attempts at ensuring the government better protects and serves veterans, members of the military and their families.
Last month, Lapeer County’s Gary Howell co-sponsored a bill in the Michigan House that would require stricter drinking water tests at veteran care facilities in Michigan. Facilities with high levels of lead or copper would be required to provide an alternative drinking water source.
Earlier this year, our representative in Congress, Paul Mitchell, teamed up with three other lawmakers to introduce the No Passport Fees for Heroes’ Families Act. It calls for waiving the fees normally associated in obtaining a passport for family members wanting to visit an injured servicemember overseas. Existing law waives those fees for family attending an overseas funeral or memorial service for a fallen servicemember.
In the U.S. Senate, Michigan’s Gary Peters is making a second attempt at getting the Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act passed. It would update the current funeral and burial benefit system to treat all non-service connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away. At the moment, more funds are allotted for the funerals and burials of veterans who pass away at VA facilities than those who pass away in their home or another medical facility.
Senator Debbie Stabenow was successful this summer is getting legislation passed that seeks to help returning servicemembers transition back to civilian life by getting the assistance to connect with local agencies that can provide employment, healthcare, housing and other important services.
We’re grateful that our legislators recognize the important work military members have done and will continue to do on behalf of this country. The least we can do is advocate on their behalf for that work to continue.