America honors Greatest Generation by serving all veterans

Billings Gazette

by Senator Jon Tester

Seventy-one years ago today, Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II. In the years that followed, all Americans made tremendous sacrifices to win our freedom, earning a place in history as this nation’s Greatest Generation. Many of them – including nearly 1,900 Montanans- sacrificed everything.

After winning the world’s most defining war, the Greatest Generation built an era of prosperity here at home. Their hard work, determination and willingness to sacrifice still inspires us. Our greatest generation also reminded us that we have an enduring responsibility to see that all veterans get the opportunities for quality health care, higher education and meaningful work when they return home.

As one Montana veteran told me “The day we stop taking care of our veterans is the day we should stop creating them.”

In Congress, supporting America’s veterans is about listening to their concerns and then taking action to improve their access to care, ensuring that they have good opportunities when their service is over, and helping them find success and well being in the society they fought to protect.

Over the past six years, with input from Montana veterans, we’ve expanded access to care for rural veterans, improved services at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and made sure the skills veterans gain in the military translate to good jobs back home.

But we have more work to do.

Working with Montana veterans and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to address the shortage of mental health care providers in our state. Too many veterans and members of the military return home with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, but they’re unable to get the treatment they need. By bringing more quality medical professionals to Montana, these heroes will get the counseling and care they deserve – no matter where they live.

We’ve got more work to do to make sure veterans have opportunities for jobs, and to see that our businesses continue to hire veterans. I will keep working with the VA to cut the unacceptable backlog of benefits claims, so that folks who are injured in service to their country don’t have to wait months – or even years – to be fairly compensated for their sacrifice. We must reform the way the military processes and investigates military sexual trauma claims.

And I’ll keep working with all stakeholders to overcome the administrative challenges within the 21st Century G.I. Bill.

After all, the original G.I. Bill shaped America by giving our Greatest Generation the opportunity to attend college and pursue their dreams, building the world’s most powerful middle class.

I recently got to visit with many Montana World War II veterans who traveled to Washington, D.C., through the Big Sky Honor Flight – an important effort to honor Montana’s heroes. The strength, courage and spirit of these veterans remain an inspiration.

As Montana’s senator, I will continue working to honor the service and sacrifice of all who have put their lives on the line for us. Any Montana veteran with ideas to share or challenges to overcome is welcome to contact my office toll-free at 866-554-4403.

All veterans belong to the “Greatest Generation.” And as citizens of the greatest state of the greatest country on earth, we are honored to lead the fight for them.