Weekly Republican Address
Rep. Joe Wilson
Columbia, South Carolina
Friday, November 11, 2016
It is fitting that at the end of a long campaign, we take time to honor our nation’s veterans. After all, their dedication affords us the blessings of self-government. A peaceful transition of power is one of our finest democratic traditions, and generation after generation, it is protected by brave men and women. Politicians come and go, but the service of our veterans is an unbroken chain.
In South Carolina, we’re a patriotic state with more than 37,000 active duty members serving our country. As the grateful son of a World War II flying tiger, a 31-year veteran myself, and as the father of four sons who have served overseas in the South Carolina Army National Guard and [the] Navy, I can personally attest to the truth, that when a loved one goes to war, the entire family does as well.
The stories of our veterans – our heroes – never cease to inspire me.
But far too often in recent years, the stories we hear are ones of struggle. Many veterans have had a hard time making the transition. They struggle to find steady work. They drive miles to their VA clinic or hospital and fail to get quality care, or any kind of care whatsoever. The system is riddled with delays and mismanagement.
Sadly, we’ve had veterans die while waiting for care. And just one VA executive has been fired for manipulating wait lists. It’s just tragic, and unacceptable.
The cost of war never leaves a veteran, and it’s our duty to properly honor their dedication. Not only because it’s the right thing to do. It shows young people who raise their hand to serve that we will always take care of them and their families.
Republicans are committed to honoring those who served by modernizing the institutions that serve them. The House has passed a series of reforms to deliver a 21st-century health care system for our veterans.
We’ve also acted to reform the VA itself. For example, bureaucrats who fail our veterans shouldn’t be given big bonuses; they should be held fully accountable.
We will keep passing reforms, but what the VA truly needs – and what our veterans truly deserve – is a sweeping change of culture at the VA.
Today, we recommit ourselves to this work.
One thing we can all do today – wherever we are – is take time to thank a veteran. Thank them for their service. Thank their families for their commitment. As a military parent, I can’t tell you how much this means. It shows that we do not take our veterans for granted. And it reminds us how truly fortunate we are to live in a free and grateful nation. Freedom is not free, as Specialist Thomas Coffman valiantly wrote in his last letter to his family before he gave his life for America in Iraq.
God bless our troops. God bless their families. And God bless the United States of America.