U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown November Update 2009

Earlier this month, our nation celebrated Veterans Day - a time to give thanks to those who served in our military and returned home to strengthen our communities.On a recent trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, I met with our troops, military commanders, and foreign officials - escorted by an Army Major from Geauga County.  In a mess hall at the Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, I was proud to spend time with soldiers representing Ohio.  From a twenty-year-old Dayton woman to a Columbus grandmother in the Reserves, our state¹s brave men and women are serving our nation at different stages in their lives, with honor and dignity.The courage of our veterans exemplifies the traditions of our nation:  freedom, democracy, decency, and service. The sacrifice of our veterans demands that we fulfill the promises we¹ve made to them - that their service will be met with earned benefits and the gratitude of the nation.That is why I am honored to serve on the Senate Veterans¹ Affairs Committee.Veterans and their families across Ohio tell me what we are doing right and where we need to improve when it comes to veterans¹ services. Community roundtables on veterans¹ issues in Canton, Chillicothe, Columbus, Toledo, and Youngstown, and a Veterans Affairs Committee field hearing in New Philadelphia, have shaped my work on behalf of our veterans to make sure that they have access to health, education, and work opportunities. In October, I attended a White House ceremony at which President Obama signed into law substantial improvements in medical care for our veterans. The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act will guarantee timely funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  This step is essential to help veterans receive health care benefits they need and deserve.Just last week, the Senate passed the Vision Scholars Act of 2009, which I introduced in April.  When service members return from combat with eye injuries, they must have access to vision rehabilitation resources.  The Visions Scholars Act would assist our nation¹s blind and low-vision veterans by improving the VA¹s recruitment of vision rehabilitation specialists.Veterans shouldn¹t have to face bureaucratic hurdles that delay disability determinations through the VA and the Social Security Administration (SSA).  On the eve of Veterans Day I introduced the Benefit Rating Acceleration for Veterans Entitlements (BRAVE) Act, which would allow veterans who qualify for total disability through the VA benefits rating system to qualify for Social Security disability as well.While transitioning to civilian life, veterans also face difficulty finding jobs, especially during an economic downturn. Regardless of experience or skills, re-entering the civilian job market from military service is typically more challenging than moving from one private sector job to another.Veterans have the skills, experience, and expertise that are needed in the private sector and government. It is both right and smart to invest in our veterans¹ path to meaningful employment. I¹m working with my Senate colleagues to lay the groundwork for our veterans to benefit from economic prosperity and opportunity.When President Roosevelt signed into the law the original GI Bill sixty-five years ago, it not only provided service members with an education, it strengthened our nation.  Colleges and universities were created to serve the growing student population; businesses expanded with a highly educated workforce; and middle class communities thrived with renewed economic prosperity.From the War of Independence to today, our military has defeated tyranny, conquered totalitarianism, and provided humanitarian relief to millions of people around the world. The troops I met in Afghanistan and the veterans of our previous wars who live in every corner of our state deserve more than our thanks.  They deserve the fulfillment of our promises to them.