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Honoring military members today and always

Penned Op-Ed In The Antelope Valley Press

Today, on Veterans Day, I want to share my appreciation for all the brave men and women who have selflessly served this nation in the US Armed Forces. America is the greatest nation on earth because of the many generations that have fought to preserve the freedoms and liberties we enjoy. 

As a former US Navy fighter pilot who flew in over 30 combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I understand the service and sacrifice our nation’s veterans and their families make. 

For generations, young men and women have answered our nation’s call to serve. From the shores of Normandy, to the jungles of Vietnam, and the Mountains of Afghanistan — our US service members have protected the beacon of democracy throughout the world.

Recently, our nation was heartbroken by the crisis that unfolded as a result of the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. We tragically lost 13 service members and abandoned many Americans and Afghan allies stranded in Afghanistan. 

My office has already helped evacuate over 100 Americans and Afghan allies, and we continue to help evacuate hundreds of people we are aware of that are still stranded there — including 36 California students. 

To my fellow Global War on Terror veterans — know that your service was not in vain. Over the last 20 years, we helped eradicate a large portion of Al Qaeda and killed Bin Laden — the ultimate purpose for America’s invasion in 2001. 

Your service and sacrifice have prevented a large-scale terrorist attack in the United States for almost two decades.

As a veteran myself, I know that the recent chaotic withdrawal in Afghanistan likely brought up many emotions for not only Global War on Terror veterans but veterans of all ages. 

Recent data shows that an average of 20 veterans die by suicide every day. We must do a better job as a nation of letting our veterans know that we are here for them. There is always someone ready to talk: Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255. 

As a member of Congress, one of the greatest honors my staff and I have is to assist the veterans in California’s 25th Congressional District with federal agency casework, most often with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Since January, we have assisted over 200 veterans and stand ready to assist many more.

We have helped veterans get wrongly accumulated debt canceled, ensured veterans are receiving their benefits and assisted veterans in changing their disability rating to match the reality of their current condition. 

Veterans that served our nation should never have to worry about having their basic needs met. 

Since being elected to Congress, I have co-sponsored numerous pieces of legislation to assist our military families and veterans including bipartisan bills to support veterans who were unemployed due to COVID-19, provide veterans with PTSD access to therapy dogs and create a Global War on Terror Memorial on the National Mall.

If my office and I can assist you or a veteran you know with a federal agency, please call my office at 661-568-4855. 

It is an honor to represent you in the US Congress. God bless all who have served our nation.

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