Chairman Takano Statement on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
Miguel Salazar (202-779-1486)
Washington, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) made the following statement in recognition of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Mental health resources are available for veterans who need them here.
Full video of the Chairman’s remarks
Chairman Takano’s remarks as prepared:
20 years ago, our country was forever changed when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing those aboard and thousands more across our country.
Many of us remember exactly where we were – and the terror we felt – when we saw these attacks unfold in real time. But in the wake of the tragedies of that day, we saw a number of brave first responders and citizens step up in the face of danger to help their fellow Americans.
As our longest military conflict has officially come to a close, I want to thank everyone who answered the call to serve our country in the years following that day. Our servicemembers, past and present, performed and served with honor and never lost sight of their duty.
Regardless of the exit from Afghanistan, the sacrifices you and your loved ones made for our country over the last 20 years mattered. For all who served or supported us in Afghanistan—we thank you.
We must also take a moment to remember the human cost of the last 20 years spent at war. Over 2 thousand lives were lost and over 20 thousand servicemembers were wounded in action. We remain forever grateful to those who have served and continue to serve so selflessly and the families who make that service possible. Today, our thoughts are especially with our Gold Star families.
Now, with the exit from Afghanistan fresh in our minds, we cannot forget that the cost of war is so much more than just the tanks, guns and weapons of war. For the veterans living with toxic exposure today, they still ARE in the heat of battle, and they’re paying for the cost of war that our nation should be paying.
When we sent these servicemembers into harm’s way, we did so with a promise to care for them--and pay for that care--when they came home. Now, 20 years later, we have an opportunity to do that through my bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act and finally make good on our promise. My bill will deliver VA benefits and care for up to 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits and airborne hazards and will concede exposure that is long overdue. It will also establish a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers, and crucially, it will overhaul VA’s presumptive decision-making process, so Congress doesn’t have to keep intervening.
With a VA Secretary committed to this issue and a president whose own son may have been impacted by toxic exposure, I believe we have the momentum to get this done. Especially with Afghanistan fresh in our minds, we cannot forget the promise we made to these veterans.
We will never forget what happened 20 years ago, and we will never relent on our commitment to all those who served in the years that followed. This service was necessary, courageous, and will be eternally valued.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at http://VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
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