Sacrifice and service

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This week, we'd like to focus on recent legislation signed into law in Missouri that honors our very deserving veterans. It is important that we, as Americans, never forget the sacrifices made by members of our Armed Forces who risk their lives to protect the freedoms we often take for granted. It's also essential that we continue to support our current troops who are actively serving in areas of conflict including Iraq and Afghanistan. These men and women deserve the support offered by several of these new measures, which were signed into law recently by Gov. Matt Blunt.

House Bill 978 creates the Vietnam Medallion Program, which is similar to World War I and World War II Medallion programs already in place. Under this bill, those who served in Vietnam will receive a special medal in appreciation for their service. It is fitting that Vietnam veterans receive the same type of honors as the veterans of WWI and WWII.

House Bill 1787 will help spouses and family members of active-duty National Guard members and reservists maintain economic stability. Assistance will be offered to families when primary income earners are called to active duty for more than four months. Resources could include coverage of daycare or transportation costs as well as training and vocational support.

House Bill 1491 is a measure that requires the state to identify Medicaid recipients who are also eligible for medical services through the Veterans Administration (VA). Once identified, these individuals will be encouraged to take advantage of VA medical services, which they definitely earned.

Two other House Bills, 983 and 984, pertain to the flying of flags. House Bill 983 requires U.S. and Missouri flags to be flown at half-staff on all government buildings on Sept. 11. The purpose of this measure is to make sure the memories of those who gave their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are forever remembered. House Bill 984 encourages Missourians to display the black and white POW/MIA flag on specific holidays. These holidays include Memorial Day, July 4, Sept. 11 and Veterans Day.

All of these new laws are additional ways that veterans are recognized and remembered. We appreciate those legislators who sponsored these bills and would support continued efforts to honor our current and past Armed Services personnel in every way we can. Their sacrifices and continued service should never be forgotten.