By Dale Wright, Missouri representative
As the nation pauses to honor its heroes on Veterans Day this month, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on and express our gratitude to all Veterans who have selflessly defended our nation. These heroes have risked their lives to preserve our way of life and protect us from tyranny and injustice. We owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.
Showing our appreciation can be as simple as saying thank you to a veteran or getting involved in charitable causes that support them. It is also the responsibility of the legislature to find policy solutions to address the challenges Veterans face.
This year, the legislature took several positive steps to support veterans. They addressed the issue of families of fallen heroes being asked to pay for memorial signs on Missouri’s highways, passing the “FA Paul Akers Jr and LCPL Jared Schmitz Memorial Sign Funding Act” to ensure that the Department of Transportation covers these costs, alleviating the burden on grieving families.
Additionally, efforts were made to assist veterans in Missouri by removing bureaucratic barriers and allocating funds for veterans homes’ maintenance and repairs. The Show Me Heroes program was expanded to connect veterans with employers and provide grants to non-profits helping veterans transition to civilian life.
“Women Veterans Appreciation Day” was also established to honor women who serve in the military.
One pressing concern is the rising rates of veteran suicides due to the traumas related to their military service. While legislation to prevent veteran suicides did not become law in the past session, the legislature is committed to revisiting this issue in 2024. These actions demonstrate the state’s dedication to supporting the valiant individuals who have protected our rights, freedoms, ideals, and hopes. It is our duty to treat veterans with the respect they have earned and consistently work to repay the extraordinary debt we owe them. Their sacrifices have preserved the nation we cherish, and their commitment to service has safeguarded our cherished freedoms.
For all they have done, I want to thank all veterans and their families for their service to our country and the sacrifices they have made.