Vietnam veterans and families honor fellow service members on the Midway. Photo by Chris Stone
Vietnam veterans and families honor fellow service members on the USS Midway in March. Photo by Chris Stone

As we move past a tumultuous election season full of negative attacks and partisanship, I think it’s important to remember what public service is really about. And for me, there is no better time to do that than Veterans Day.

Each year on Veterans Day, our nation gives thanks for the heroism of the millions of veterans who have served and fought to defend our democracy. The brave men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves reflect the highest ideals of our country.

My grandfather served during World War II as a tail gunner in what was then the U.S. Army Air Forces. The stories he told me when I was growing up gave me a deep appreciation for the service of American men and women who have dedicated their lives to the same mission: keeping our country safe and free.

Since my grandfather and the Greatest Generation returned home following World War II, countless men and women have served and returned to a country that hasn’t always lived up to its responsibility to care for our veterans.

Too many veterans have struggled to find a good-paying job when they return to civilian life. Too many veterans have ended up homeless on the street because they didn’t have the support and quality benefits they deserved.

That’s unacceptable. It’s up to all of us to step up and make sure that not a single veteran goes hungry, homeless, or jobless.

Over the last few years, we’ve stepped up in Congress, and that is the work I’m focused on as vice chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

While you heard a lot about partisan politics during the election season, there is a good reason you should be hopeful about Democrats and Republicans coming together. And that’s because we have already proven it’s possible. We have made incredible bipartisan progress for veterans and military families in the House committee.

In fact, I’m proud that nineteen of my bipartisan bills to support veterans have been signed into law by presidents of both parties. That includes my bipartisan Transition Improvement Act to improve the Transition Assistance Program for servicemembers returning to civilian life. And when the COVID hit, we passed my REMOTE Act to protect education benefits for veterans amid the challenges brought by the pandemic.

We’ve passed dozens of bills to help veterans access the economic opportunities they have earned and deserve. All too often, many veterans hear the words “thank you for your service,” but don’t see enough action behind those words. Over the last few years, I’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans to put action behind our words.

Despite what you hear about partisan division or gridlock in Washington, know that we have delivered for veterans and military families. To be clear, we have a lot more work to do — from reducing wait times for VA appointments to ending veteran suicide — but I am committed to continuing this important work.

And to the many veterans in our community and across the country: I will never stop fighting for you. 

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you all in Congress. Happy Veterans Day.

Rep. Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which covers north coastal San Diego County and south Orange County. He resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.