First Published as ” Congressman Yarmuth A Friend to America’s Heroes” on http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1217497 CNN iReport
One Politician’s Commitment to Serving Veterans
Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District has always been known by his constituents as someone who has never wavered in his support to improve the care of America’s service men and women.
Whether its helping to secure millions of dollars for a new Veterans Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, working for progress in the treatment of the nation’s veterans via increased funding for the Veterans Administration, supporting a new GI Bill to provide Veterans greater educational opportunities, supporting the Caregiver and Omnibus Veterans Health Act or making certain that improved training is available for case managers and transition services to assist those veterans transitioning from active duty into the Veterans Affairs system , he has always been there. Yarmuth’s support of veterans goes even deeper when it comes to recognizing the contributions of African-American veterans.
For the past nine years during Black History Month, he has hosted an Annual Community Dialogue with African-American Veterans at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. The veterans are treated to breakfast and the opportunity to discuss the issues affecting them in Louisville and the nation. This year they also received hand crafted heart-felt valentines from Louisville elementary school students attending St. Nicholas Academy, Trunnell and Dixie thanking veterans for their service.
Yarmuth sees the event as a tradition and is pleased with the growth of the event today. He feels a special kinship to African-American vets in particular, adding, “Anybody that’s done a little bit of research knows that African-American soldiers faced a very different struggle, particularly those who served in World War II and in Korea, when the armed forces were still segregated and they weren’t readily accepted. So, their service actually counts a little bit more, I think, because they had an added element of difficulty. I think it’s very appropriate that we set-aside a special occasion to honor African-American veterans, because again, their service was very difficult in many cases.”
Veteran Dorris Arnold proudly states that she served in the military for 32 years, 2 months and 22 days. Her attitude and experience is indicative of many veterans who served this nation. Arnold’s family has given the ultimate sacrifice to this country but continues that legacy today. She lost two brothers; one serving in 1966 was killed, and the other passed away several years later; both were Vietnam era veterans.
Currently, her sister is at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She has nephews in the military – two in the Army, one in the Air Force, and one in the Navy. Arnold added, “This was the third year I’ve attended this event. I am appreciative of Congressman Yarmuth taking the time to bring African-American Veterans together to celebrate us for our service, and to keep us informed on what’s going on as it affects vets. I always meet new people and learn about upcoming events and available services.”
Martin Traxler, of the Department of Veteran Affairs and Medical Center Director for the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, concurs with Arnold as it relates to meeting new people and sharing information about available services for veterans in and around Louisville. This was his first year attending the event.
Traxler, said, “ I think it’s wonderful that the Congressman makes himself accessible to the veterans. Most of the time when I find that folks are frustrated with government services it’s because they don’t feel that there is a face or a name … a person they can go talk with, and that’s our commitment at the VA, that when they need us we’ll be there. So, a chance for me to come out and thank them for their service and let them know that, like them, I’m a veteran and I’m really honored to serve them. To me, that quickly makes a connection. I think they trust me more when I tell them we truly want to know when we can do better; that we’re not going to hide from our challenges, we’re going to learn from them and look to improve. We have a great medical center. We believe we can be better and the way we are going to get better is by tying ourselves closer to the veterans we serve. So, this event is invaluable.”
Yarmuth once commented, “When we challenge our young men and women to put on a uniform and risk their lives for our country, we promise to always take care of those who answer the call. Honoring this pact is among the key virtues that make America worth fighting for, and I intend to see that it is fully honored.”