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Thankful nation honors its veterans

Published on -11/11/2012, 3:57 PM

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The service to our nation our veterans provided can never be fully repaid. But, Americans like me who are indebted to their service will never cease trying to show the respect and gratitude of a thankful nation.

First and foremost, this includes fulfilling the promises made to men and women who have served our nation in uniform during wartime. To break our commitments is not only going against our word -- and what are you without your word -- but is also to set a bad precedent for the next generation.

We rely on an all-volunteer force, which means we have to incentivize enlistment. If Washington breaks promises now, then what does that signal to the young men and women thinking about joining the military?

Chief among my responsibilities as a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee is oversight of the VA. In the 22 months I have been in Congress, I have heard horror story after horror story about the conditions our veterans face while pursuing the health care and resources they are due. Obviously poor conditions at our hospitals are an affront to our veterans, but also to the nation's taxpayers. We are working hard to fix that.

Second, showing gratitude and respect to our veterans and our currently active or reserve duty troops means not denying them the liberties and freedoms they have fought to defend.

When I learned this year that the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains censored the reading of a letter from Timothy Broglio, archbishop of Military Services, regarding the HHS mandate that religious employers pay for and provide abortion drugs and birth control in their health care plans, I was outraged. Catholics across the country heard a letter from their own bishop with the call-to-action: "We cannot -- we will not -- comply with this unjust law."

But, Catholics in the military did not get to hear this because of this shocking censorship.

Non-Catholics, those not in the military, and even those who support the use of abortion drugs and contraception should take offense at this very obvious abrogation and stifling of First Amendment rights.

Third, the respect and gratitude of a thankful nation can be shown by keeping the American Dream alive. The American Dream is defined as making sure the next generation is always better off than the current. With that in mind, we owe it to the next generation to not leave them $16 trillion (and growing) in debt. We owe it to the next generation to keep America an attractive to start a business. We owe it to the next generation to protect the right to pursue prosperity. And, ultimately, we owe it to the next generation to protect their freedoms and liberties.

It's time to get back to the America that our veterans fought to defend.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler and Hutchinson, represents the First District of Kansas.

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