Duckworth Honors Veterans at VFW Department of Illinois 98th State Convention in Springfield
[SPRINGFIELD, IL] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) delivered remarks today at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Illinois 98th State Convention, emphasizing the importance of recognizing our Veterans’ sacrifices not just on Veterans Day, but every other day of the year too. She went on to discuss the legislation she’s passed to help Veterans, such as the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which expanded mental health services to help reduce suicides among Veterans. Duckworth is the former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs and the former Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs. Photos from today’s event are available here.
“Tour after tour, time after time, Veterans have risked everything for the rest of us—putting country over self and showing what true sacrifice, true selflessness, looks like,” Duckworth said. “Despite the risks, despite the danger, they dedicated their careers to keeping our nation strong and our loved ones safe. Anyone who’s willing to serve this country so faithfully deserves the best when they hang up their uniform.”
Duckworth’s full remarks as prepared are below:
Hello everyone! I’m honored to be here today and to help welcome you to this year’s convention.
Before I go any further, I just want to say thank you. Thank you so much.
Tour after tour, time after time, you all risked everything for the rest of us… putting country over self and showing what true sacrifice… true selflessness… looks like.
Despite the risks, despite the danger, you dedicated your careers to keeping our nation strong and our loved ones safe… just as American heroes have ever since a group of patriots stood their ground at Lexington and Concord.
We’ll never be able to repay the debt we owe you.
But it’s on us to try.
That means not just giving you an ovation during those 24 hours in November marked as Veterans Day, but—as the VFW motto suggests—honoring you the other 364 days of the year, too.
People often confuse what it means to actually support our troops and Veterans—thinking it amounts to letting us pre-board at the airport or giving us discounts at Home Depot.
Those things are nice, sure.
But actually honoring our troops takes more of an effort than just giving dollar-off discounts to those who risked everything for our country.
It starts with making sure that no Veteran is homeless:
Because we’re all dishonored when any Veteran is forced to lay their head down to sleep on the same streets they risked their life to defend.
It means making it easier for Veterans to access the retirement or disability benefits they’ve earned... easier for them to go to school and find good-paying jobs, too.
It involves passing policies to ensure they have ready access to good healthcare, including mental healthcare...
It means investing a few more dollars so that the VA can afford to hire the 40,000 mental health counselors, female health providers and other staff it needs to fill its vacancies and serve our warriors.
And finally, it means making sure the VA pays their provider bills so Veterans don’t go into collections.
This isn’t “just” a matter of doing right by those who’ve done so much for the rest of us.
It’s a matter of national strength and national security, too.
Our young men and women are gonna think twice about volunteering to serve if they see that our nation won’t provide for them after they take off the uniform.
Or if they see their friends coming back from war, suffering from PTSD yet struggling to get the mental healthcare they’ve earned.
That’s unacceptable. Every part of it.
Which is why I’ve been working day and night to pass policies that will actually help our Veterans in the ways they deserve.
I’ve gotten signed into law the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which expands mental health services to help end the suicide epidemic among Veterans… a piece of legislation named in memory of Marine Cpl. Clay Hunt, who, after taking off the uniform, fought tirelessly… selflessly… for his fellow Veterans’ well-being even while he himself struggled with post-traumatic stress and depression.
I’ve passed bills that would get more Purple Heart recipients into classrooms…
Legislation that would help Veterans translate the skills they learned in the military into the credentials needed for civilian jobs… that would help them start or run their own small businesses.
And I’ve pushed forward policy that would help keep roofs over our heroes’ heads, too.
Because it comes down to this:
Anyone who’s willing to serve this country so faithfully deserves the best when they hang up their uniform.
You all have fought for the rest of us for so long.
Now, it’s time for us to fight for you, too.
So please know how grateful I am for everything you’ve given to this nation… how hard I’m going to work to do right by you and honor your sacrifice... and how proud I am to call you Americans.
God bless you. God bless our troops in harm’s way. And God bless America.
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