Honoring National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Dear Friend,

Today marks 51 years since U.S. combat troops began to depart Vietnam, and since then, March 29th has become recognized as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. While 51 years is a long time, as a 23-year Navy veteran and the last Vietnam veteran serving in the U.S. Senate, I remember all too well the return that our servicemembers received: little fanfare, no welcome home ceremonies, and no parades.

Those who put their lives on the line in defense of our country deserve better. We have made great strides over the years to right this historic wrong, and in doing so, we have ushered in a long overdue honor of fully recognizing their service and sacrifice to our nation.

During my time in Washington, D.C., I have often started my mornings by running on the National Mall. On these runs, I frequently stop by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which has more than 58,000 names etched into its black granite walls. Those 58,000 names are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, including 8 nurses who did not make it home. For those of you whose father, uncle, brother, or nephew never returned home, we will never forget their service and we will continue to honor their memory.

We must also ensure that we are living up to our sacred obligation to care for our servicemen and women, along with their families, when they return home. That’s why I’ve dedicated so much of my career to improving access to quality health care at our VA hospitals and providing servicemembers and veterans with the resources they need to be successful back home. I was especially proud to usher in the PACT Act nearly two years ago, which represents the largest expansion of veterans’ health care in our nation’s history. It’s clear that we must continue to find ways to serve those who so bravely serve our country, and I will always stand up for our veteran community in Congress.

I’m a Navy guy, but whenever I meet veterans and servicemembers from other branches, I remind them that while we wear different uniforms, we’re all on the same team. Last year, I shared this message on the National Mall, where I had the honor of giving a Welcome Home to our Vietnam veterans, 50 years after the conclusion of the war. Today, I want to once again say to our Vietnam veterans across Delaware and the country: Welcome Home, and thank you for your service. And to your families, thank you for your sacrifice. As we say in the Navy, Bravo Zulu – we owe you our humble thanks and deepest gratitude.

God bless,

Tom Carper