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Honoring sacrifice and service

As a grateful nation, we pause this week to honor America’s veterans. These brave men and women leave family, friends, careers and the comforts of home to fight and defend our freedoms and values. They’ve fought for us; it is incredibly important to fight for them now. From servicemen like my uncle, who fought in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart, to those recently enlisted beginning their first tours of duty, we owe a debt of gratitude.

I consider it a great honor to help our military heroes. Whether hosting a local Veterans Summit to assist our nation’s finest figure out benefits, ending fraud and abuse within the Veterans Administration, fighting for better VA health care in rural areas or showing the Greatest Generation the WWII memorial in Washington, serving veterans is a privilege.

This week, America’s veterans are a step closer to the exceptional treatment they deserve. Working closely with the Trump Administration, I fought to make sure veterans have choices when it comes to their health care. Those who cannot get a timely appointment at a VA medical facility now have options in a private health care setting, covered by their veterans’ benefits. Additionally, after many requests to increase hours of operation and expand services at the VA Clinic in Salem, I worked to get this done. Veterans will also have access to a long-awaited ID card that will help ensure they get the benefits they rightly earned.

Recently, veterans from Perryville traveled to our nation’s Capital to conduct a flag exchange ceremony for the Missouri National Veterans Memorial. It was an honor for me to participate in this important ceremony linking the full-scale black granite replica in Perryville to the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. Not everyone can travel to D.C., so Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial is taking one of our nation’s most important sacred monuments right to America’s heartland in Perryville.

We were all again reminded of how important it is to defend our nation when ISIS struck New York City this week. In a cowardly act of terror, an ISIS supporter rented a vehicle and struck innocent civilians as school was dismissing and families were preparing to go trick or treating. Even as we face terrorism at home, our troops are overseas, working to extinguish terrorist groups so their twisted ideology of hate never reaches our borders. As you read this, there are hundreds of thousands of America’s finest deployed across the globe, defending our freedom and fighting terrorists where they are deeply rooted.

We are so blessed to live in the land of the free, but we must not forget this has come with a price. Others have sacrificed their own lives so that we may live in freedom. Please take some time to thank veterans not just today, but every day, and let them know how grateful you are for their service to our country.

Jason Smith

Jason Smith

This report was filed Nov. 3, 2017

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