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OPINION: Congressman Paul Cook Offers Veterans Day Salute

VETERANS Cook

Congressman Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley/8), who represents the 8th Congressional District and the mountain communities, offers his thoughts on Veterans Day 2014. (File Photo)

By Congressman Paul Cook

November 11 stands as one of this country’s most important days of recognition as we pay tribute to those who defend our freedom. Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to honor the heroes among us. I’d like to thank every veteran who has served, and all those currently serving, for their incredible sacrifice to our great nation.

COOK Flag

Congressman Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley/8)

As we enjoy November 11, take a moment to remember local veterans and their incredible sacrifice to this country. Veterans Day is not simply another holiday to me. Having served in the Marine Corps for 26 years, I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the tremendous bravery and sacrifice of my fellow Marines.

As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I also know the lasting physical and mental scars that can follow our veterans home from the battlefield. It’s our duty as Americans to not only celebrate veterans on the 11th day of the 11th month, but to honor them every day by ensuring they receive the healthcare and services they earned.

This year, the Veterans Administration’s (VA) criminal treatment of our veterans was exposed across the country. This widespread misconduct resulted in countless veterans waiting too long for critical medical care and even led to deaths of some of the finest men and women in our country. Even worse, no one at the VA has been held accountable for this inexcusable failure. As a veteran and U.S. Representative, I’m appalled by this agency’s complete disrespect for the people they’re responsible for serving, which is why I made it my priority to implement major reform at the VA.

In August, the Veteran Choice and Accountability Act passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law. This bill ensures veterans will receive timely and convenient medical care. It does this by allowing veterans who are unable to attain an appointment at the VA within 30 days, or veterans who live further than 40 miles from a facility, to access private medical care. Veterans should never have to wait on a VA that is unable to provide essential care. This reform also establishes accountability within the VA by cutting through the red tape and giving the Secretary of the VA the authority to fire executives responsible for failing our veterans.

These are two important first steps to ensuring proper care of veterans but the fight is far from over. For me as a representative, but more importantly as a veteran and an American, every day is Veterans Day. Veterans fought every day for the freedoms we enjoy and we have a duty to fight for them as well.

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