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Remember to honor veterans today

Veterans Day is an important opportunity to honor the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country and reflect on the extraordinary sacrifices they and their families have made to preserve our freedoms. I’m proud to represent a population of more than 26,000 veterans in Ohio’s 14th Congressional District.

As the son of a World War II veteran, I grew up hearing firsthand accounts of the dedication that is required to serve our country and the challenges veterans face when they return home. Today, my deep gratitude for those in uniform, along with my father’s legacy, have inspired many aspects of my work in Congress. It is my honor to be a voice for those who served our country.

One of my greatest accomplishments on behalf of veterans was getting my bill, the Solid Start Act, signed into law last Congress. I crafted this legislation to help our veterans transition back to civilian life and expand their access to critical resources in the process. The Solid Start Program contacts every veteran three times by phone in their first year out of active duty to connect them directly with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs and benefits. Under the new law, this pilot program became permanent.

Another crucial win for our veteran community was the passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, a measure I voted in favor of both times it was considered by the House. This legislation expands access to VA health care and disability benefits for veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty.

I always will stand with our nation’s veteran community, which is why I continue to champion new legislation that addresses the challenges faced by veterans every day. Unfortunately, over the past two decades, both veteran and active duty military suicides in the U.S. have been increasing steadily.

One life lost to suicide is one too many. That’s why, earlier this year, I introduced a bipartisan resolution designating Sept. 30 as National Veteran Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day to bring more attention to this tragic reality as we work to reverse these trends. Furthermore, I introduced the Military Suicide Prevention in the 21st Century Act to address rising rates of suicide among veterans and active duty service members. It is imperative that we amplify the importance of veteran and military suicide prevention efforts and make sure they have the resources they need to live a lifetime of happiness following their selfless service to our nation.

In my district, I have the privilege of representing the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, or YARS, home of the 910th Airlift Wing. As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I take seriously the responsibility of ensuring our military and military facilities, like YARS, are properly funded. I recognize that supporting our nation’s veterans includes supporting our active duty servicemembers and setting them up for success now.

This Veterans Day, I hope you will take a moment to thank those who have served our country. I am honored to advocate for our veterans in Congress and I will continue working to ensure they receive all the benefits they deserve.

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Bainbridge, represents Ohio’s 14th congressional district, which includes all of Trumbull County and parts of adjacent counties.

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