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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam President, when most Americans think of the sacrifices that our veterans made in the name of defending freedom, they think of those brave men and women running toward the danger. We are grateful that, in their hearts, they have that desire, but as anyone who knows or has worked with veterans knows, they also make sacrifices that really never bubble to the surface or come to our attention. Not only do they sacrifice their own safety, they give up their personal independence, the comforts of home, their relationships with friends and family, their spouses, and their children.
Think about what an extraordinary decision they have made--that the safety and security of their fellow countrymen is worth more than losing those precious days. They have made that choice. They put that service and that sacrifice in front of their desires, in front of the desires of their family. They are, indeed, called to serve.
These are the people whom we should be looking to for comfort and inspiration during difficult times. They really do have experience in that category. They have made those sacrifices, and they have made those choices knowing that it wouldn't be easy and knowing that they may not come home, but, when they do come home, that sometimes it is tough. It is tough to get back in that groove of where you were, to rekindle those relationships.
Our younger veterans, in particular, were painfully aware of this when they put on the uniform. But do you know what? They still made that choice to serve.
Here in the Senate, we have backed legislation that really has made things easier for so many of our veterans.
When I was in the House, I was honored to help shepherd passage of the VA MISSION Act, and I was grateful to see that receive bipartisan support here in the Senate. It has, indeed, streamlined many of the processes in the VA healthcare system.
Last month, I introduced a bill to provide doula services to improve maternal health outcomes for our female veterans, a population that every single month continues to increase.
Back in August, I introduced a bill that will allow our K2 veterans to obtain the special health screenings they need to check for cancer and other illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances in Uzbekistan.
In fact, this has been a great year for veteran support. We have passed--or are very close to passing--legislation that will improve and simplify doctor-patient relationships, recordkeeping, and mental health services, and will make those and other important benefits more accessible to our veterans and their families.
If you are not already supporting these efforts, I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation.
As the week draws to a close, I would encourage everyone to seek out veterans' stories and to internalize the knowledge that the sacrifices they made were for us. There is so much we can learn from those who have served. There is so much that they have done to help preserve our way of life and our freedoms. It is so much that they have done for the values and the institutions--things that really do transcend politics.
I reached out to many of our veterans this week and had great conversations and heard from veterans online.
I heard from William, a Tennessean who proudly served in the Air Force. He said his service was ``the best decision of his entire life.''
I also heard from Greg, who served as a C-130 crew chief in theatre during Desert Storm. He put off his college education when he was asked to serve.
And I would be remiss if I did not recognize the veterans who are currently serving in our office: Dana Magneson, John Clement, Jay Strobino, Dr. Karen Summar, and Paris Cervantes.
I thank each and every one of them for their service and for the continued work that they do on behalf of all Tennesseans.
These brave men and women represent the hope of a nation and our promise to the rest of the world that, no matter what, the United States stands ready and willing to answer the call.
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