Military and Veterans

Over my three terms in Congress, I have had the honor of meeting many of our men and women in uniform on their assignments overseas. From Afghanistan to the DMZ to Central America, these trips have highlighted the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces in some of the most dangerous and complex parts of the world. Our men and women in uniform and their families deserve our full support when serving overseas and upon returning home. Our nation has no higher responsibility.

That starts with a clear mission for all who serve. For nearly two decades, our servicemembers have been waging long and painful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the battlefield has expanded far beyond its original scope. It is long past time for Congress to debate a new Authorization for Use of Military Force that outlines our mission and strategy. With military personnel deployed and ready for combat in dozens of countries, we owe it to them to clearly define success and how we plan to achieve it. Declaring war is Congress’s most solemn, sacred responsibility, and until we have that debate we will be abdicating our obligation to our servicemembers.

As our country engages in conflicts around the world, it is essential that our troops and their families are supported and protected. That means everything from investing in the latest technology and supporting innovation to keep them safe to taking claims of sexual assault or harassment in the military community seriously and ensuring that transgender service members are empowered to serve with dignity and the full and fair protection of the law. Access to health care, education and the best training and equipment should be guaranteed to any man or woman who bravely dons a uniform.

In recent years the face of our military has evolved significantly -- more women on the frontlines and in positions of authority is a welcome change -- and our modern Armed Forces are an example for the world to follow. It is absolutely essential they have a strong and supportive government at their back.

On the other side of active duty, the federal government has an obligation to honor our veterans’ service by helping them reintegrate into the civilian economy, with access to all of the job training, benefits and support they have earned. Backlogs and bureaucratic delays at the Department of Veterans Affairs undermine this commitment, unacceptably hampering our veterans' access to health care in particular and leaving challenges ranging from mental illness to homelessness unaddressed. Our veterans deserve better, and that’s why I voted for the MISSION Act to strengthen the Veterans Choice Program.

Sacrificing for our freedom is not limited to the woman or man in uniform; families share in that sacrifice while their loved ones are active and after their service has ended. Addressing inequities in benefits for surviving spouses has been one of my priorities since the day I arrived in Washington and that is why I am a proud cosponsor of the bipartisan Military Surviving Spouses Act. For veterans who return home with an injury or illness, family members too often become under-appreciated caregivers. We cannot ask those mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters to put aside careers and compensation to care for a servicemember injured fighting for our country. As a cosponsor of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, I will work with my colleagues to extend our appreciation to the family members who sacrifice so much for us.

There are over 36,000 veterans living in the 4th District of Massachusetts. Many of these veterans return to the civilian job market as skilled electricians, medical technicians and logistics managers, with extensive military work experience and training in their field. However, many employers do not “connect the dots” between that experience and the skills needed for private sector employment. I support efforts by the VA, the Department of Labor and community organizations to provide job training and certification to veterans and ensure they have access to every opportunity our economy can provide.

From employment to health care, a lack of coordination across our system -- here in Massachusetts and across the country -- too often leaves veterans unable to access the services they need. Better synchronization across government, service agencies, employers, caseworkers and advocacy groups is essential. I will continue to work closely with service members, veterans, their families and those who serve them to address gaps in our system and outline priorities that will benefit veterans in the 4th District of Massachusetts and across the country.

One of my most rewarding experiences in Congress to date has been the creation of the 4th District Veterans History Project (VHP) for the Library of Congress. By sitting down with our community’s veterans of all ages and recording their stories, we can preserve their narratives and the history they have created in service to our nation. To learn more about this project, or to submit your story, please click here. You can also watch my interview with World War II Navy Veteran Arnold Marcus here.

For a full list of our recommended resources for veterans please click here.