Washington, DC (November 11, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement commemorating Veterans Day.
“Massachusetts is the Bay State, but we are also the Brave State. But being first in freedom is not enough if we don’t put our veterans, their families, and the families of the fallen first, as well.
“Too many of our bravest return home unable to find a job. They suffer from homelessness, mental health and substance abuse. Too often, they end their lives in suicide. We need to treat these unseen wounds, and give our veterans a better life, where they are employed, healthy, and supported.
“On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, we must ensure that when warriors return home, we leave no veteran behind.
“This year, I joined Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kelly Ayotte, Jeanne Shaheen, Marco Rubio to introduce bipartisan legislation to honor American servicemembers who are Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA). The POW/MIA Commemorative Chair Act will honor these approximately 83,000 service members by establishing a permanent commemorative chair on the grounds of the United States Capitol. This legislation will help every American visiting the nation’s capital recognize the incredible sacrifice made by those brave Americans whose fate is still unknown and the courage of the families that are left behind.
“All our veterans are heroes, but sometimes heroes need help. Our returning veterans, and those who served previous wars, always should get the best services, including medical care.
“Unfortunately, the Department of Veteran Affairs is facing a crisis. Thousands of veterans have been trying to see a doctor but were never on the VA list to see a doctor. These veterans were forgotten and lost in the scheduling process. These problems at the VA are unacceptable, and they dishonor our veterans and their families that have sacrificed so much.
“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 modernize the agency and its facilities to appropriately address the new needs of returning soldiers and their families.
“That’s why I supported passage of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation that begins to reform the VA. The bill allows VA to lease dozens of new medical facilities that would expand access to care, including dedicating $4.8 million for the VA Worcester community-based Outpatient Clinic. It authorizes the hiring of new medical personnel for hospitals and clinics that are facing a shortage of doctors and other health professionals.
“The law also allows all recently-separate veterans taking advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Finally, it would extend Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits to surviving spouses of veterans who have died in the line of duty. Passage of this legislation was a critical first step to dealing with the crisis at the VA.
“But there is much more to be done across the country and in Massachusetts. We need to make sure the VA hospitals in Brockton, West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Bedford, and Northampton 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.
“I recently asked the town of Natick to rename Kansas Street after Major General Harold Greene who was killed in Afghanistan in August. Major Greene once served as commanding general of the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts, and Kansas Street links the town of Natick to the Army base. Not only today, but everyday the people of the MetroWest and all of Massachusetts will remember his leadership and service from his time at the Natick Center.
“As a nation, we will always remember Major Greene’s sacrifice and the sacrifice those made by all of he brave men and women who lost their lives this year and throughout our history protecting our nation and our freedom. Today, my thoughts and thanks go out to all the family, friends and fellow servicemembers of our veterans, and I pledge to continue to fight so that that all receive the recognition and support they earned for their noble service to our nation.”