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Debt to veterans can never fully be repaid

Posted 11/4/2010   Updated 11/4/2010 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Gen. Donald Hoffman
Commander, Air Force Materiel Command

11/4/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Despite the rhetoric and divisiveness we witnessed during this election year, there is one topic where Congress historically votes with one voice: supporting our military and our veterans.

In early October, Congress approved the Veterans Benefits Act of 2010. This comprehensive bill encompasses a wide spectrum of benefits -- from the rights of active-duty troops, to veterans' employment programs -- previously covered by multiple individual pieces of legislation.

On Oct. 13 President Obama signed the Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 into law, signaling the solidarity of our nation's leaders in recognizing the importance of supporting our military veterans.

In 2009, this spirit of giving back to our veterans came to fruition in the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Introduced in August 2009, this bill provides financial support for education and housing, and marked a historical first: the opportunity to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or dependents.

These actions by our president and Congress represent not just the respect which our country has for its veterans, but also recognition and thanks to all who serve. As a nation we've asked so many veterans to risk their well-being and their lives in stepping up to the military actions directed by our commanders-in-chief.

The United States is doing a better job of remembering and caring for its veterans. Although these legislative efforts are significant and valued by our veterans, what they really value is recognition as simple as a "thank you" from family, friends and even strangers.

I am always humbled when an elementary school child comes up to me and says, "Thank you for giving me my freedom." Even though I know she has been trained to say that to those in uniform, and may not know the difference between a corporal and a general, the fact that her teachers or parents instructed her is significant. It reflects the high esteem America's population has for those who have served and continue to serve.

Happy Veterans Day, America.

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