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By Senator Jim Risch - November 11, 2019

On Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation a year after World War I to commemorate the end of fighting and formally recognize Armistice Day. Upon signing the proclamation, President Wilson said, “The reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory …”

It’s been 100 years since the Armistice Day proclamation. In the decades since, the world has changed dramatically. We have seen countless conflicts play out in every corner of the world, some of them coming right to our doorstep. Through it all, millions of Americans have answered the call of duty and made a solemn oath to protect our nation. Many made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to defend our freedoms far away from home. Theirs is a debt we can never repay. This Veterans Day, we remember the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made to keep America safe.

As Idaho’s senator, it is my privilege to advocate on behalf of veterans in the Gem State and ensure that we honor our commitments to them and their families. I have been proud to promote and protect programs and resources designed to help service members transition back to civilian life once their tour of service has ended. I have also fought to ensure surviving spouses and families of deceased veterans have access to the full benefits promised by the federal government. Recently, I partnered with my Senate colleagues to guarantee benefits to Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange and expand American Legion membership to veterans who served in active duty for non-declared wars since World War II.

Last Congress, President Trump signed into law the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018, a new law that overhauled the antiquated veterans health care system. The new law provides veterans with better access to health care, expands benefits for caregivers, and improves quality of service at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. As the law is implemented, Congress must provide strong oversight to ensure all veterans receive high-quality care when they are sick, especially if their illness is a result of their time serving our country.

Words cannot capture the incredible courage and selflessness of our men and women in uniform. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude. Sometimes it may seem that Washington is more divided than united, but this Veterans Day, I urge Republicans and Democrats to come together to honor the generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen who answered the call to serve and protect our nation.

On this centennial Veterans Day, I am once again “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of our veterans.” It is an honor to work for Idaho’s more than 120,000 veterans, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf in Washington, D.C. To Idaho’s veterans, may God bless you and your families, and thank you for your service.

To read on the Coeur d'Alene Press website, click here.

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