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Remembrance and Thanks
Monday, May 31, 2010


Today, in communities like ours, all across the country, we will salute our heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom. We also extend our thoughts and prayers to the brave men and women in uniform who are serving in harm's way and protecting and fighting for the cause of freedom. Today we have 94,000 of our finest serving in Afghanistan, and 92,000 serving in Iraq. We have lost 1,000 of our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and 4,404 in Iraq and many thousands more wounded and living with profound challenges as a result of their service and sacrifice. The Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project has a slide show about our fallen heroes that can be viewed here. 

In 1789 George Washington observed: "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." 

Our community is blessed with both those who serve our country and our community and those who support and appreciate them. We have so many wonderful groups that help our veterans, our wounded warriors, and their families and I just wanted to highlight a few: 

  • ThanksUSA, founded by two sisters in McLean, has a mission to provide college, technical and vocational school need-based scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty US military personnel. The young sisters, Rachel and Kelsi Okun, were only 10 and 8, when they were inspired in 2005 by their McLean neighbor, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Lanier Ward, who had been severely injured in Iraq. Although the girls had already sent care packages from school and church and they had written letters to the soldiers, they had a simple desire to do something more. This inspiration has now grown into a charity providing hundreds of scholarships. To learn more about ThanksUSA click here. 

  • Military Appreciation Mondays, spearheaded by Bob Nelson of Great Falls at The Olde Broguerestaurant in Great Falls, is a monthly event to raise money for a military charity. The events are held the last Monday of the month at The Olde Brogue in Great Falls and feature a different charity each month. Bob and his co-sponsors each month donate ten percent of the tab of each diner who attends to the designated charity. They have recently featured local charities such as ThanksUSA, Our Military Kidsand Neighbors Foundation. Bob also invites servicemen and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and treats them to dinner. To learn more about Military Appreciation Mondays click here. 

Since these are only just a few of the great charities serving our veterans and their families, I would invite you to share information on other charities on our Facebook page. 


In the state legislature this year, we worked together to show our appreciation by continuing our efforts to make Virginia the best state in the country for veterans. The Governor has directed the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans to develop a Veterans Bill of Rights. Because the tough economy has had a significant impact on veterans, the Governor asked the Virginia Employment Commission, in cooperation with the Department of Veterans Services and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, to establish the Veterans Skills Database. Free to both veterans and employers, this database will help market and promote the workforce skills of our veterans. 

In addition, this year, we passed a measure to put on the ballot a state constitutional amendment to provide real estate tax exemption for veterans with 100% service-connected disability. We also passed legislation to help veterans by waiving certain fees when applying for a small business permit through the one-stop business permitting program. 

We amended Virginia's election laws to guarantee that our military members overseas would get timely delivery of ballots and those ballots were guaranteed to be counted. Also, the Wounded Warrior program will now be expanded to cover mental health and rehabilitative services for Virginia veterans with stress-related injuries and traumatic brain injuries resulting from military service. To learn more about other legislation passed this year for veterans please visit the Governor's website. 

The overwhelming support of our veterans is a common bond we all share. I look forward to working with our veterans and their families and our community during my service in the legislature in order to make Virginia the best state in America for veterans. 

On this day of observance and remembrance, we recall the words of our first President and we honor the fallen and their families and keep them in our thoughts and prayers. 

May God bless our fallen heroes and may God bless the United States of America.

Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.