As a senator, I’ve taken a number of trips to Walter Reed Medical Center near Washington, D.C., to visit wounded veterans who know, firsthand, the stark realities of war. These are the servicemembers who have returned from battle with both visible and invisible wounds, but who — despite their own sacrifices — often care more about their fellow servicemembers, especially those who didn’t make it home.
President Ronald Reagan may have said it best on Veterans Day in 1985, when he described four Marines killed while serving their country. He said, “they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.”
Those are powerful words. With those we’ve lost, all we can do is remember. But with those who came back, we can do more. We can — and we must — act. We must do everything in our power to help them live that second life — the one they should be able to enjoy when they come home.