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Congressman Tim Huelskamp

POSTED: November 11, 2011 7:00 a.m.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave it is easy to take for granted our abilities to exercise our God-given liberties. Freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly as well our constitutionally-enshrined rights to vote and to air our grievances with government officials are just a few of the liberties many across the world are denied. Our freedoms and liberties represent the value and importance we place on the individual. But, despite our age of individualism, we still have men and women who answer the call to serve others. These are our men and women in uniform.


The exercise of our liberties would not be possible if not for the willingness of our veterans and current service members to put themselves in harm’s way in order to defend us. It is incumbent upon each of us to make sure that even as we sometimes take for granted our abilities to exercise our God-given liberties, we never take for granted the men and women who have preserved them.


This week, I encourage every Kansan to thank at least one of the quarter million veterans who call the Sunflower State their home. Our former and current service members need to know that they have the appreciation, support, and prayers of the people they fought and fight to protect. As a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, this week I will have the distinct privilege of taking part in a number of activities to thank our veterans, but as I do so, I want to make sure that our veterans are receiving the services and care that have been promised to them.


Too many of our men and women in uniform come home to find themselves in less-than-ideal situations. The stories we have heard before the Committee have left me very concerned for the safety of our veterans, especially in medical facilities. Earlier this fall, testimony revealed that for years poor leadership at the Miami (Florida) Veterans’ Medical Center has led to serious concerns about patient safety and veteran deaths. We heard one story about how poor cleaning procedures of endoscopes could have exposed 2,000 of the men and women who have served our country to blood-transmitted diseases. Veterans already put their lives on the line in international conflicts; they should not be forced to do so again when they go in for routine medical procedures.


Our men and women in uniform have served as the defenders of our abilities to exercise our freedoms and liberties. Let’s make sure that we defend them when they are home, never taking for granted what they have done for us.


Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Fowler represents the First District of Kansas. He serves on the Veterans’ Affairs, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.

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