Veterans Day is dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of the bravest among us, recognizing the service of those who wear our uniform, paying our respects to those who perished at war and celebrating the courage of those who come home. Over the generations, our men and women in uniform have been our unifying force, our guardians of freedom and our best ambassadors to the rest of the world.
In Congress, we are doing everything in our power to meet the needs of our veterans and better serve the men and women of our armed forces. In just the past month, the House passed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, finally ensuring sufficient, timely funding for veterans' health care by approving the funds one year in advance, giving the VA the tools and resources to plan for the future. This builds on our unprecedented commitment to strengthening quality health care for more than 5 million veterans — with the largest increase in the history of the VA.
In 2008, the New Direction Congress passed the New GI Bill, restoring the promise of a full, four-year college education for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, to help make them part of the economic recovery. In just the first few months, nearly 300,000 veterans signed up for these college benefits; and this year, we expanded these critical keys to college to all children of service members who have died on active duty since 9/11.
On this Veterans Day, the prayers and condolences of the entire country rest with the victims of the horrible attack at Fort Hood and with their families. This was an unspeakable tragedy for the families, soldiers, civilians, and support staff on the base. The heroes of that day — the civilians, military police, and service members who cared for their comrades and stopped the shooter — represent some of the best in America. Today, we honor them alongside all of the brave veterans of our nation's history.
All of our work in Congress is founded on a solemn promise: just as the military pledges to leave no soldier behind on the battlefield, we will leave no veteran behind when they come home. On Veterans Day, let us honor their deeds, recount their stories, take inspiration from their actions, and hold up their success and service as a true tribute to our nation's strength.