Veterans Day honors patriotism, sacrifice

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

On November 11, 2008, our country will once again honor America’s service members by commemorating Veterans Day. Ninety years ago during World War I, the Allies and Germany reached an armistice at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of November 1918, generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first remembrance of Armistice Day by stating: "To us in America, 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, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

In 1926, Congress passed a resolution recognizing an annual observance of Armistice Day, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history and American forces had fought aggression in Korea, Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended this law to rename the occasion “Veterans Day.” With the approval of the renaming legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all conflicts, past and present.

The observance of Veterans Day on November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. My fellow colleagues and I in Congress, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), work each day to honor veterans’ contributions to our country by ensuring they have access to world-class health, educational and employment benefits. One example of this is a new expansion of the VA Vet Center program. The VA will introduce an initial fleet of 50 mobile counseling centers across the country over the next three months. These motor coaches will carry Vet Center counselors and outreach workers to events and activities to reach veterans in broad geographic areas, especially rural and underserved veterans populations.

According to the VA, the Community Outreach Vehicles, designed to supplement the VA’s 232 current Vet Centers, will be utilized to provide VA and Vet Center outreach, information and direct readjustment counseling to veterans. This includes psychological counseling for traumatic military-related experiences and family counseling when needed for the veteran’s readjustment. The vehicles have been maximized for multi-use applications by adding portable exam tables, medication storage capability for primary care, and equipment that provide the vehicles with emergency patient evacuation capability.

It is my understanding that the Richmond Vet Center was selected to receive one of the 50 Vet Center Community Outreach Vehicles. I am hopeful that the VA will utilize this vehicle to serve veterans in Central and Southside Virginia as well, providing them with an innovative new method of receiving information and support services closer to home.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.