Norwalk Reflector: Honoring our nation's heroes on Veterans Day
Norwalk, November 7, 2023
As we take time to honor and thank our nation’s heroes this Veterans Day, I have been reflecting upon a journey I embarked on with an outstanding group of Vietnam veterans — and it all started more than two years ago.
In July of 2021, I received a book at my Bowling Green office entitled Up Close & Personal that detailed the history of a group of men serving in the Vietnam War as part of “B” Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade.
The book came with a letter appealing for assistance with their effort to obtain the Combat Infantry Badge to recognize their unique service during the Vietnam War. While these men were classified as military police during their service, the Battalion unofficially performed infantry missions on the front lines.
After contacting the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of the Army to inquire as to the possibility of the group receiving the recognition, officials within the Defense Department undertook an extensive search at personnel records facilities to locate official documentation that could back up claims that the company performed infantry actions.
After months and months of research, and through documentation provided by the veterans, the Department of the Army concluded "B" Company performed actions essential to the success of the entire 720th MP Battalion during the Vietnam War. It was then announced these individuals would be recognized with Bronze Stars for their meritorious service.
To date, 66 Bronze Stars have been secured for these heroes. And earlier this year, I had the true honor of helping present the veterans with their Bronze Stars in a ceremony at the United States Capitol.
Each of these men were called upon by their nation to perform duties outside of what they signed up for, and they more than rose to the occasion. Their sacrifices, and those of their families, will never be forgotten.
As we pledge to never forget the sacrifices they made, we must never forget to thank our veterans every day — not just on Veterans Day — for their service.
While we will never be able to repay our veterans, we can extend our unwavering gratitude for their bravery and sacrifice. This also includes making the pledge to assist them and our servicemembers as they return to civilian life.
Nearly 40,000 veterans call Ohio’s Fifth District home, and I am honored to serve each and every one of them — including their families — in the United States Congress.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting with and assisting our veterans when they run into trouble with federal agencies, like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Whether it is ensuring veterans receive a response from the VA to see a doctor or if they are having trouble receiving ID cards or service records — my office stands ready to assist. Veterans who need assistance may call my Bowling Green office at (419) 354-8700 or send a message through my website at latta.house.gov. While we cannot guarantee a specific outcome, we will do our best to assist by seeking solutions or cutting through bureaucratic red tape. This is a very important and integral part of my job, and I will always promote the interests and well-being of our veterans.
On the legislative front in Congress, I am continuing to work on policy solutions to ensure our veterans receive the support they need. This includes making sure veterans receive prompt and streamlined communication from the VA and that they are afforded additional time to comply with any VA requirements.
The very last thing veterans should worry about is being denied a disability claim or health care payment due to VA administrative hiccups and slow communication. That is why I have introduced legislation like the Veterans Right to Expediency Act and the Addressing Care Timelines (ACT) for Veterans Act, which will ultimately improve health care outcomes for our nation’s heroes. I am committed to advancing commonsense policies that ensure our veterans receive the care they need and the benefits they have earned and deserve.
Again, our veterans sacrificed everything to protect our nation and people. It is because of the service of our veterans — who time and time again put the interest of our country before their own — that the American people are able to live freely in the greatest nation on Earth.
To our veterans and their families on this Veterans Day: thank you for your service to our nation and your fellow countrymen.