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Congressman Hank Johnson

Representing the 4th District of Georgia

DeKalb County Veterans Day Program, Friday, 4 November 2016

December 16, 2016
Speech

DeKalb County Veterans Day Program, Friday, 4 November 2016, 11 AM 

Thank you Lee for that kind introduction, and thank you to the DeKalb Veterans Advisory Board for inviting me here this morning.

Congratulations to our esteemed honoree today – Major General Maria Britt U.S. Army Retired. I look forward to your thoughts and hearing from all our speakers.

Today is a special day – or technically next Friday is a hallowed day – when we honored those who served.

This year’s theme is “Honoring Those Who Served: Excellence.”

I can’t think of a more succinct, to-the-point title.

Whether they fought at Normandy or Falluja, Mogadishu or Helmand, in the Persian Gulf or in the Tet Offensive or simply provided support here at home, our veterans represent the very best men and women who have served our country in battle.

On this Veterans Day, we express our deepest gratitude and thanks. Your sacrifices have been the foundation of more than 240 years of American progress. Your legacy confirms that no matter what confronts us or what adversity we face, there is no challenge we cannot overcome together, and because of your sacrifice and commitment our best days as a nation lie ahead.

Our men and women in uniform teach us duty, strength, enterprise, passion and dedication – the bedrock of a commitment to safeguard and shield – that has kept our nation secure for more than two centuries.

In war and in peace, your service has been selfless and your accomplishments have been singular.

As a grateful nation, it is our solemn duty to make that transition possible -- to ensure our returning heroes can share in the opportunities they have fought so hard to protect.

The freedoms we hold dear exist and persist because of your commitment, and our nation must work much harder to honor our veterans by fulfilling our promise to them and upholding the sacred bond we share with all Americans’ veterans.

On this Veterans Day celebration in DeKalb, we are called to commemorate the boundless burdens that have been endured by so few. We honor our wounded warriors, our missing in action, our fallen, and their families -- men and women who have borne the ultimate costs of war and deserve our deepest respect, not just today but forever.

We must redouble our commitments to our service members and we must honor their sacrifice not only on Veterans Day, but every single day. When our troops finish their tours of duty, let’s make sure they come home to an America that grants them the benefits they have earned, offers them the care they deserve, and helps them to fulfill their potential to keep their families strong and our country moving forward.

Not a day goes by in my office without one of our constituent representatives speaking with a veteran who is dealing with a housing, health, employment or compensation issue.

To all the Veterans, please know that it is an honor to serve you – you have served us so well – and now we must serve you. There’s not much in Congress we do that’s more important than serving our veterans.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee since 2007, every day I’m inspired to work on behalf of all our military personnel and veterans. Ensuring that quality services are being delivered to each of you is one of my greatest joys as a public servant. I thank each of you for your service and can assure you that as long as I am in Congress, your needs will remain a priority for me and my staff.

I authored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to bring greater awareness to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a severe anxiety disorder often associated with combat trauma.

The last decades of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken a toll on our service men and women, who have been stretched to the breaking point. Far too many are coming home with PTSD. We must do more to educate service members, veterans, military families and the public about PTSD and to coordinate efforts across the federal government to promote prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

We must remove the stigma surrounding PTSD. Our soldiers should never be afraid to ask for help. My promise and pledge today is to continue that important work on the Armed Services committee, where we can often forge bi-partisan agreements that are so elusive these days in Washington.

Veterans Day is a solemn holiday and a great opportunity for us to make it clear, we appreciate the service and sacrifice of our military and their families.  It is a day – in contrast with Memorial Day – to pause and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and to say a heartfelt thank you to those who are still with us. 

Your service is noble and in the best traditions of our nation. Putting service before self, you have made our country strong.  You make us all proud.

So I end today with the simple, but heartfelt words that we cannot say often enough….…THANK YOU for your service.  Thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for being great Americans.

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