LASATA: Honoring those who served

The freedoms we enjoy as Americans that are enshrined in our Constitution and laws are preserved, protected and defended by the men and women in the military.

Our rights to free speech, assembly and our recently held election may very well not be afforded to us if it were not for the service and sacrifice of the fewer than 1 percent of Americans who swear the oath and wear our nation’s colors in uniform.

It is perhaps fitting, therefore, that we honor our military veterans so soon after our election on Nov. 11. Veterans Day — as opposed to Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day, which respectively honor the fallen and those currently serving — honors those living among us who formerly served.

Michigan is currently home to nearly 600,000 military veterans whose eras of service extend back from before World War II through to the current post-Global War on Terror era. Like many southwest Michigan residents who have family that served, I am very proud of my father, who dedicated his career to the Army, and my brother, who served in the Navy.

We honor our veterans each year not only because they served, but also because of the sacrifices they made so that we might remain free. These men and women, in many cases, put their lives on hold, delaying their futures, to serve and fight. Dedicating only one day to them is not nearly enough to repay them for what most volunteered to do. Indeed, we can never fully repay them or their families for the time they gave.

But Michigan has made significant strides over the past decade to help connect veterans with the benefits they have earned through their service and to take better care of those living in our state’s veterans’ homes. Founded in 2013 by former Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is the central coordinating agency, providing support, care, advocacy and service to veterans and their families. It can be reached at 800-MICH-VET or MichiganVeterans.com.

I also provide a free guide on veterans benefits and services through my office and my website. The booklet provides information about obtaining veterans benefits and services available through federal, state and local agencies. Topics range from acquiring a home mortgage, education, employment and insurance to medical treatment and death benefits, as well as contact information for VA medical facilities in Michigan and veterans service organizations. You can download the guide for free at StateSenatorKimLaSata.com/publications/ and look for the Veterans Benefits & Services — For Michigan Veterans Who Served in the Military link.

Our veterans have given much in service to our country and to defend liberty. Please join me on Nov. 11 to honor them and to let them know how much they mean to us.

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