Nov 11 2020
My first Veterans Day in Delaware was November 11, 1973, shortly after I had completed nearly five years of active duty during the Vietnam War. That fall, with the help of the GI Bill, I enrolled in the University of Delaware’s MBA program. Along with other Vietnam veterans who were furthering their education, I received a $250 monthly benefit along with some dental benefits at the state’s only VA medical facility in Elsmere.
That medical facility was a World War II relic of a hospital – with 16-bed wards, almost no care for female veterans, poor morale and an equally poor reputation for providing health care. Veterans in Kent and Sussex counties had to find a way to get to Elsmere to receive care from the VA and even then some had to continue on to Philadelphia to receive the services they needed. Additionally, there were no VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC’s) in Delaware, no veterans cemeteries and no veterans’ home.
Just as the Constitution would simply be words on a piece of paper if it were not for the generations of Americans who have risked, and in many cases given, their lives to protect our freedoms, so too would Veterans Day be an empty gesture if we are not making good on our promises made to our veterans. Thankfully, since 1973, we have made significant improvements that help demonstrate our appreciation for Delaware veterans every day of the year.
Encouraged by our congressional delegation, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been expanding their care to veterans in Kent and Sussex Counties. This year, I’m proud to announce that we are once again making good on our promises made to our veterans with the opening of a new CBOC in Dover.
This new clinic is triple the size of the old Dover CBOC. With 18 exam rooms, 12 mental health exam rooms, women’s health rooms and more, it is a true testament to how we are always striving to improve care for our veterans. With expanded services and more space, this beautiful new clinic will be a relief to so many Kent County veterans who will now be able to get more of their services closer to home, rather than have to drive up to Wilmington.
Today, I was glad to spend Veterans Day with my colleague Senator Coons, as well as Delaware’s former Adjutant General Frank Vavala and representatives from the VA to highlight the near completion of the new Dover CBOC. While its doors aren’t open just yet, we were able to get a sneak peek inside, and it is truly an impressive facility. You can take a look for yourself here.
Having served for 23 years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves, I understand the sacrifices that the brave men and women of our military have made to defend our country’s freedoms. As I reflect on more than four decades of Veterans Days in the First State, I’m reminded of the remarkable progress that can be made when we work together to care for those who have borne the battle. Our work is not yet finished, but we’ve come a long way.This Veterans Day, we once again honor our nation’s veterans and their families for their sacrifice. I am also renewing my commitment to continue improving the quality of services and benefits for Delaware veterans and their families so that when we say, “Happy Veterans Day” to a veteran, he or she will know we really mean it.
God bless and stay safe,