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Remember to thank veterans, their families for sacrifice

In the Revolutionary War, it was militiamen, armed with muskets, who brought about the dawn of our new nation. Today in Afghanistan, brave men and women armed with high-tech artillery are fighting an enemy abroad so we do not face them at home. While the equipment and battlefields have changed over the centuries, the goal remains the same: a victory for freedom and independence.

This Veterans Day, I am reminded that the United States' fighting force is, and has always been, without equal. One of my greatest privileges is the opportunity to represent the veterans of South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, home to Naval Hospital Beaufort, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Fort Jackson.

South Carolina's veterans and their families have sacrificed so much for this nation. Their devotion and service deserve the highest level of respect and gratitude this Veterans Day and beyond.

One simple way to show our gratitude is to take care of our veterans once they return home from service. While veterans receive access to the finest health care our nation has to offer, there have been well-documented cases of a system that is not living up to a superior level of care. Congress must provide strict oversight to keep our nation's veteran hospitals up to the highest standards.

In the 111th Congress, I was pleased Congress passed the Veterans Benefit Act to increase job training opportunities and other benefits for homeless veterans. A bipartisan accomplishment, this legislation also will ensure cost-of-living adjustments for disabled veterans and surviving spouses and children.

Make no mistake, there is much more work to be done. As the new Congress convenes in January, I am hoping to maintain my leadership role on the House Military Personnel Subcommittee. The responsibility to maintain and improve access to personnel benefits, as well as personnel programs within the Department of Defense, is one I take very seriously. Military personnel issues go hand-in-hand with the armed services' end-strength, and I remain committed to ensuring we honor our nation's world-wide commitments by fighting to protect the viability of programs that contribute to the well-being of our military personnel and their families.

If I am honored to become chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I will continue to fight to allow Chapter 61 retirees to receive both their full military disability pay and VA disability pay, to eliminate the so-called "Widow's Tax" and to address the issue of retroactive retirement credit for all National Guard and reserve soldiers who served after Sept. 11, 2001.

Enhancing the lives of America's veterans, protecting those now serving and providing the tools necessary for our armed forces to maintain its superiority is my top priority.

We have more than 150,000 men and women deployed, with their families at home also making a sacrifice in the name of protecting America. These brave soldiers have quite the footsteps to follow as generations before them have left a remarkable legacy of preserving our nation's liberty and justice. This Veterans Day, I hope we all pause to remember this enduring commitment and sacrifice.