Nov. 11, 2011: Markey Commemorates Veteran

MEDFORD, MA – Congressman Edward J. Markey, dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, released the following statement to commemorate Veteran’s Day.

On this day each year, we pause to recognize the sacrifices of those men and women who have so selflessly served their country in our nation’s Armed Services. This Veterans Day, as we near the end of one war, we still find another generation of soldiers, sailors, airman, and Marines again engaged in battle. Now more than ever, it is vital that we carry on this fundamental tradition of extending our appreciation and support to our deserving veterans.

This summer, I had the honor of doing just that. Paul Bennett’s father, John P. Bennett, was a combat veteran having served in the United States Army during World War II.  John’s actions in service entitled him to the Bronze Star, which, because of a fire that destroyed John’s military records, he never received. When John passed away in 1980, his widow fought for decades to gain the recognition he deserved.

“This year, Paul, a resident of Malden, pulled together all of his father’s military records with assistance from Massachusetts State Representative Chris Fallon (D – Malden).  I immediately wrote to the Director of the National Personnel Records Center Scott A. Levins and Secretary of the U.S. Army John McHugh.  I was able to submit the right documentation, and this summer, I finally presented the Bronze Star and a host of other medals directly to the Bennett family. John Bennett was a member of our Nation’s Greatest Generation and I’m honored that I could help his family recognize his service.

“John Bennett was a hero, but sometimes even heroes need help. As we honor those who have fallen in battle or from injuries received in war, we also have an obligation when our veterans return home from the war zone.  They fight for their lives while in service; they should not be fighting for their health when they return home.

“Democrats in Congress have made great strides toward ensuring that our veterans receive the healthcare and benefits they deserve. From 2007-2010, while Democrats were in charge, we passed, and the President signed, legislation that restored the promise of education to our veterans by enacting the Post 9-11 GI Bill.  This bill already has allowed over 600,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to afford college, and included tax incentives to encourage businesses to offer job opportunities to returning soldiers.  We have also strengthened health care for more than 5 million veterans by passing legislation to increase the Department of Veterans Affairs budget by $6.7 billion above the 2007 level, the largest single increase in veterans funding in the 77-year history of the VA.

“We also passed legislation to expand government contracting opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, reauthorize small business support programs, increase Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) screening and improve VA outreach efforts for returning veterans.  There over 375,000 veterans living in Massachusetts and over 3,000 still serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Every single one of them deserves the very best treatment available.

“On Veterans Day, we honor all those who have served and we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  We thank them for their sacrifice, courage and patriotism.  Through Veterans Day observances and continued efforts to deliver top quality health care services when veterans return home, we will keep faith with our brave men and women in the Armed Services and ensure that their commitment to our country is never forgotten.”