Rep. Mark Green: Veterans Day reminds us that freedom cannot be taken for granted

For those who swore an oath to defend this country, Thursday is a special day for reflection

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For many Americans, Thursday is no different from any other day. They will wake up, go to work, eat dinner or watch football, and go about their lives.

But for those who once put on the uniform and swore an oath to defend this country, Thursday is a special day for reflection.

Army veterans are remembering their time standing on the front lines praying for survival. Navy and Coast Guard veterans think of the weeks and months spent at sea, replaying the memories of manning a ship with unfaltering determination as they patrolled waters near and far. 

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Those who served in the Air Force are reliving the most intense days of training, preparing for the day they would have to use this combat knowledge to defeat an enemy of freedom. Marine veterans are recalling the battlefields of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Korea and Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan while their loved ones waited for that next letter back home. 

To all of our veterans who served the United States military in any capacity – some overseas, some in the Reserves, from the depths of the sea to the open skies – this was their day job. To every American citizen, this is heroism.

Ensuring that military service never becomes a thankless job must be a top priority for policymakers and military leaders alike.

As I wake up every Nov. 11, my thoughts return to all those I served alongside throughout my 24 years of service.

I think of the man that was shot seven times, yet still came back to serve. 

I think of the dedicated soldier that chose to stay and fight with his battalion long after earning his retirement. 

I think of the shotgun pellets I removed from the face of a brave Navy SEAL. 

I think of this pure grit, resiliency and sacrifice. And then I think of why veterans dedicated their lives to the service.

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This nation is a shining city on a hill. As long as we continue to honor our service members for defending our nation with the dignity and strength that they never cease to emulate, freedom will continue to persevere, and our nation will continue to be a beacon of hope and a shining example to the rest of the world. 

Veterans Day reminds us that this freedom cannot be taken for granted, and the sacrifices it cost our veterans can never be forgotten. Ensuring that military service never becomes a thankless job must be a top priority for policymakers and military leaders alike.

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As we remember the importance of honoring our veterans, we must also remember the importance of protecting and taking care of these men and women after they return home. I will continue to introduce and support legislation that provides health care services and benefits to veterans subjected to toxic exposure overseas, as I have done with my bill supporting K2 veterans. 

While no act of Congress could ever repay the sacrifices that our veterans have made, I consider it my solemn duty to provide a voice on behalf of the citizen-soldiers who have served our nation with unmatched courage and commitment.

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