Honoring Those Who Have ServedPosted by on November 11, 2012
On Sunday, November 11th, 2012, our country celebrates Veterans Day. This day, which was originally named Armistice Day, marks the anniversary of the conclusion of World War I, which ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918.
This special occasion provides all Americans with an opportunity to come together and pay tribute to the nearly 21.5 million veterans who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces.
We owe an immeasurable amount of gratitude to the heroes who have chosen to wear the uniform of the United States military. Their everlasting courage and bravery has helped to ensure that America will always be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
But as we know, the freedoms we enjoy were certainly not free. They were fought for in places like Lexington and Concord, Omaha Beach, Okinawa and the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, many of those who selflessly served in the defense of our nation returned home carrying with them the scars of war. Whether it is physical injuries sustained on the battlefield, difficulties in returning to civilian life, or problems finding employment, our veterans sometimes find the battles they face at home more difficult than the ones they faced abroad.
While I am often frustrated by the lack of cooperation in Congress, it is encouraging that when it comes to protecting our veterans, both sides of the aisle can look past their political differences.
We have passed several pieces of bipartisan legislation in the United States House of Representatives during the 112th Congress aimed at fulfilling the promises our nation has made to our veterans
First, we increased the benefits paid to disabled military veterans and to their survivors by 3.6 percent.
Next, in an effort create better economic opportunities for veterans, we passed the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act. This legislation helps veterans to find long-term employment by making sure there is an effective transition process when service members are discharged. The VOW ACT provides education and training for our veterans, including enabling 100,000 unemployed veterans to receive up to 1-year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits. Additionally, the VOW Act provides a $25,000 tax incentive to small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses, who hire an unemployed veteran.
The House also passed the Veterans' Benefits Training Improvement Act. This legislation will improve processing for compensation and pension benefit claims so that veterans suffering disabilities will get their claims processed in a timely manner.
Finally, I’m pleased that the House passed my bill, the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act. This legislation is named in honor of Lance Corporal Andrew P. Carpenter of Columbia, Tennessee who lost his life on February 19, 2011, while serving his country in Afghanistan. Three years prior, Andrew had taken out a private educational loan. After learning that he had been killed in action, the company administering the loan agreed to completely forgive the debt. But upon forgiveness of the loan, Andrew’s family received a 1099-C form from the IRS informing them that the debt discharged would be factored into their gross taxable income for that year. My bill amends the Internal Revenue Code by exempting student loan forgiveness from being categorized as taxable income for families of veterans who have lost their life while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
We have done a lot, but we must continue in making sure that our nation’s heroes are well cared for when they return from the battlefield. As a Member of Congress and a former physician in a VA hospital, I will always work to ensure that veterans in the Fourth District of Tennessee have access to support they need and deserve. My offices and staff are available to assist any Fourth District veterans with VA claims and any other military service related issues.
On this Veterans Day, please take a moment to thank a veteran for all they have done and I hope you will also join me in saying a prayer for the safety of our soldiers who are still fighting for us abroad.