This Veterans Day, people all over the nation will be celebrating the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who have bravely served our country in uniform. Veterans are our true heroes and we must never forget the men and women who fought in Vietnam, Korea, and the World Wars. Our nation is also now welcoming home a new generation of veterans who have served at home and on the battlefields of the War on Terrorism.
We can and must do more for all our veterans who have made such great sacrifices for our country. However, we are making strides in the right direction by enhancing care and benefits for veterans. Right now, Congress is working to improve treatment for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and expand opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses.
Additionally, our nation made a tremendous investment in our future by enacting a new and expanded G.I. Bill. This new law, which went into effect on August 1st of this year, will help thousands of veterans gain greater access to higher education.
Changes like these are making it easier for our veterans to rejoin civilian society – and many veterans are taking advantage of these new opportunities. Most will succeed because they already know how to perform under the harshest conditions. They focus on results and adapt quickly to overcome new challenges.
Many veterans of the War on Terrorism volunteered after 9/11 specifically to defend our country. After serving in the military, these young leaders have returned home both disciplined and motivated. A good number are pursuing their education, with many obtaining advanced degrees in law, business, and government. The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan have shown these veterans that a true leader must be both a scholar and a warrior.
Yet providing educational benefits to new veterans is not only a matter of honoring their service. It's a method for creating a new generation of leaders who can serve our country off the battlefield. Armed with an education and a desire to continue serving our country, young veterans of the War on Terrorism are now taking places of leadership in the public and private sectors and throughout our communities.
As time goes on, these veterans will leave an indelible mark on our nation as business leaders, teachers, elected officials, and much more. Their military experience, and the support our nation and our community provides when they return home is helping to make this possible.
It's a good thing too. The world is changing rapidly and the challenges facing our country will surely mount. It will take exceptional men and women to lead us through the wars and economic challenges we will face over the next century. Fortunately, we can rely on a new generation of veterans who are equal to the task.
Providing our veterans with the support they need today is one of the best investments we can make for the future of our nation.
(Congressman Jerry McNerney represents California's 11th Congressional District and sits on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Michael McNerney is an Air Force veteran and Truman Security Fellow.)