CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today released the following statement and video on the 96th anniversary of Veterans Day:
“Today we honor the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women who wore the uniform to defend our freedom and keep us safe. Our heroes deserve better than to be treated as second-class citizens, which is why I’m leading the charge to investigate misconduct and intimidation at VA hospitals like Hines in Illinois. In order to care for our veterans, we also have to protect the men and women who care for them. After 23 years in the Navy Reserve, this is my way of giving back to my fellow veterans.”
Senator Kirk today will honor Illinois’ 700,000 veterans at the City of Chicago’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Soldier Field and at the City of Winnetka’s Veterans Day Celebration at the Winnetka Community House.
As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA), Senator Kirk recently chaired a field hearing in Chicago about reports of mistreatment of veterans and retaliation against whistleblowers at the Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital near Maywood, Ill.
The Senate this week passed three Kirk-authored pieces of legislation to honor our veterans and the commitments we have made to them:
- The fiscal year 2016 MilCon/VA appropriations bill, which Senator Kirk authored as chairman of the MilCon/VA Appropriations Subcommittee, funds veterans’ care at record levels – $1.1 billion above the President’s budget request – and extends whistleblower protections to VA doctors and nurses who speak up to protect veterans.
- Provisions from Senator Kirk’s Frontlines to Lifelines Act will expand and reauthorize for three years the VA’s Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) pilot program, which allows the VA to hire combat medics, medical technicians and corpsmen straight from active duty service so veterans can care for their fellow veterans at VA hospitals. The number of participating veteran technicians will increase from 45 to 72.
- The Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act establishes two minutes of silence at the same time across the country on Veterans Day for the American people to reflect on the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who served in the military.
Senator Kirk served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve for 23 years until he retired in 2013 with the rank of commander.