(Photo by Schelly Stone)

Preserving history ... and learning from it

On Aug. 28, a resolution sponsored by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was passed that designates Aug. 24-30, 2018, as “American Legion Week.” A day later, Klobuchar returned to her home state of Minnesota to praise the organization in person.

Speaking at The American Legion 100th National Convention, Klobuchar said having thousands of veterans gathering in Minneapolis was comforting to her.

“And it also reminds me of that importance of history,” she said. “The American Legion now, for 100 years, has made sure that the history of our brave veterans is passed on from generation to generation.”

Klobuchar said she’s learned several lessons both interacting with veterans and in various travels with Sen. John McCain, who passed away Aug. 25. “The first lesson I learned is that we must treat our veterans with respect when they come home,” she said. “When they sign up to serve, there was no waiting line. And when they come back to the United States of America and they need health care or education or a job, there should never be a waiting line.”

Klobuchar said that while the Department of Affairs still can be improved, “we must stand by our VA health-care system. We make it stronger, but we don’t take it away.”

Reducing veterans unemployment, especially in her state, has been a priority for Klobuchar. “We want to continue that,” she said. “That’s is why we passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill so that our veterans when they get home get the benefits they deserve.”

Klobuchar said one of history’s lessons was the effect Agent Orange had on Vietnam veterans. She doesn’t want to see something similar happen with the new generations of veterans.

“It took the government decades and decades to recognize that there was a link between Agent Orange and the devastating health effects on our soldiers,” she said. “We cannot let that happen again with burn pits. So many of our soldiers that served in Afghanistan and Iraq were stationed next to burn pits. Many of them came home and got sick.

“We’ve introduced a bill (with Sen. Thom Tillis) to make sure that our VA better understands and begins to address the health needs of these veterans. We will not let the burn pits become this generation’s Agent Orange.”