On Veterans Day, I always think of my brother Dale. Dale served in the Alabama National Guard and did multiple tours in the Middle East, often times on missions he couldn’t even tell us where he was going. As I’ve been traveling the state, I’ve loved hearing veterans who served alongside Dale tell stories of their service together.
We ultimately lost Dale six years ago to an illness related to his service. I know I can’t bring Dale back, but I can dedicate myself to making sure that Dale’s fellow veterans receive the respect, care, and benefits they deserve.
Alabama, especially, can be proud of our military sons and daughters, with over 400,000 veterans, 22,000 reservists and national guard members, and 11,000 active duty soldiers. We should all have immense pride in the contributions our fellow citizens have made in defending our nation and everything the American flag stands for.
We should take pride in our Alabama patriots like Lt. Gen. Chick Cleveland, who is a “Fighter Ace” from the Korean War, and Col. John Reitzell, who commanded the famed 1st Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry. There are countless other stories like these all across our great state, and our challenge is to make sure we are doing right by those who have served.
Working with President Trump, we have made good progress to combat the culture of complacency at the VA.
We have passed laws to make it easier to fire VA employees who aren’t getting the job done. We’ve made good progress in reducing the VA claim backlog, and we have put additional funding toward VA programs.
I’m proud to have led the charge to get our veterans in Southwest Alabama a new VA outpatient clinic, but it wasn’t easy. Bureaucrats at the VA in Washington had been delaying the project for years, so I put my foot down and demanded action. This past March, we opened a new first-class VA clinic in Mobile.
Another project still in progress is our plan to give every veteran greater access to private medical care, a priority shared with the Trump Administration. Instead of forcing veterans into the broken VA system, I want every veteran to have a card so they can receive care from doctors, specialists, and hospitals right there in their own community.
We still have a long way to go to make life better for our veterans. Right here in Alabama, there are still very serious problems with the Central Alabama VA system in Montgomery. Cleaning up the issues there must remain a top priority, while we also work to get more doctors into the VA system. It won’t be easy to clean up the problems, but it is a challenge we must meet.
While no words or deeds can ever be sufficient to adequately thank our veterans for their tremendous service and sacrifice, we must continue to do everything we can. On this Veterans Day, I want to make the following promise to our veterans: When elected as your Senator, I will continue to work with President Trump to do everything in my power to honor, protect and provide our veterans with the funding, healthcare and services you deserve.
I am reaffirming my commitment to carry on Dale’s legacy, and I will never stop fighting for those who have given so much to us. God bless our great American veterans!