My father was a career Navy man. He served in WWII and the Korean War. I had three uncles who served in WWII and one who served in WWI. My brother and ex-husband as well as many of my high school and college friends served in Vietnam. My nephew was in Desert Storm. In my life, I have had many close family members and friends touched by these wars.
Yet today, only one percent of our nation has served in the wars that have been waged continuously since shortly after 9/11. That is a tiny percentage who have been bearing the burden of deployments, physical and emotional stress, injury and death, either on the battlefield, or as a direct consequence of the trauma of war.
Over the past fifteen years we have asked a great deal of our military with limited consequences to too many of us. They have born this burden in the shadows. Our VA has struggled to meet the growing needs of our returning veterans, and too many have fallen through the numerous cracks.
California has the largest number of veterans in the country. Too many are homeless, and too many struggle to find stability. We have a moral responsibility to each and every one. We also owe it to them to pay attention to the demands being placed on our troops to fight in amorphous wars that seem to lack clear goals and are allowed to go on without end.
President Eisenhower stated , “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”
Today and every day I honor our veterans and those who serve, and as governor I commit to a state government that makes our veterans the priority they should be.