Washington (May 26, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement commemorating Memorial Day.
“We are a commonwealth and country grateful for the men and women who have defended us and made our nation safer and stronger. We have a sacred obligation to honor and care for our servicemen and women for their bravery and sacrifice.
“But too many of our bravest return home unable to find a job. They suffer from homelessness, mental health illnesses and substance abuse. Too often, they end their lives in suicide. While in recent years, we’ve provided historic budget increases for veterans, improved health services for all veterans, and modernized benefits earned by America’s service members, it is clear today that this hasn’t been nearly enough. The problems at the VA are unacceptable, and they dishonor our veterans and their families that have sacrificed so much. Anyone who contributed to the careless treatment of our veterans should be held fully accountable.
“Today, and every day, we must put our veterans, their families, and the families of the fallen first. Our work must be redoubled. We must address the emerging needs of veterans, as well as those needs that have lingered for years.
“When we put our veterans back to work, we put our nation back to work. There are nearly 700,000 unemployed veterans in America. These are people who risk everything to defend our way of life; the very least we can do is to help them make a living when they return home safe. We also must challenge the private sector to hire and train unemployed veterans and their spouses, and expand tax credits for hiring veterans looking for work. We need to invest in the small businesses owned by our veterans or their spouses the same way they invested in us. And we must ensure that service members leave the military career-ready.
“Our returning veterans, and those who served in previous wars, always should get the best services, including medical care. What is clear is that we need a full-scale reform of how the VA does business. Too many men and women are falling through the cracks. We need to fully fund the VA and cut this backlog of benefits and modernize the agency and its facilities to address the new needs of returning soldiers and their families.
“We need to make sure the hospitals we have in Massachusetts, Brockton, West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Bedford can continue to provide the care that our veterans deserve, including the latest in health care for traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder and other injuries. Our country needs a new direction for funding the needs of America’s veterans. We need to make sure the cost of war includes the cost of the warrior and that our budgets honor the sacrifices of our service members and veterans. And we can thank veterans for the security they provided us by protecting Social Security for all of us.
“Memorial Day is a national day that brings every single generation of soldiers, from the Greatest Generation to the current one, together with an America showing her deep and unwavering appreciation for those who have served our country. We are grateful for our heroes – not just today, but every day of the year.”