Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Moment with Mike -- Helping our Veterans

The end of the 96th General Assembly was only a couple of weeks ago but seems like a distant blur as I portray these thoughts.  My wife and I were able to take some time off immediately after session and travel to Panama, where we enjoyed some “down time” and renewed relationships with acquaintances that my wife had made during her numerous mission trips to that country.  We had a great time and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere, the ocean with black sand beaches, the rain forest and the cuisine in a variety of local restaurants.  What I always find interesting, however, is the people and the lifestyles they live.  I was quickly reminded that we in this great country are still the most privileged in the world when it comes to freedoms, opportunities, conveniences and living conditions for the masses.
While in Panama City it seemed that there was an abundance of cars and trucks that wanted to occupy the same streets that we traveled but in reality, many in Panama do not own vehicles and many in the rural areas negotiate a bus system that operates along the major roads or walk miles to and from their jobs every day.  Wages tend to be low and the average family live in small quarters without the conveniences that we see as necessities.
I am thankful to live in the United States where the opportunities abound and we are still privileged to live our lives with freedoms that many do not enjoy.  It has been with great sacrifice of many that we have been able to keep our country free and even though we were miles away, I was aptly reminded of that fact as our country observed another Memorial Day. 
One of the privileges of being a member of the General Assembly is the opportunity it gives to do substantive things for Missourians in need.  This year we were not only able to pay tribute to our many veterans through our words or observance of a holiday, but more importantly, through our actions as well.  The veterans’ bill that was passed this session will provide much needed additional funding for our seven nursing homes that care for over 1,300 veterans in our state and will hopefully provide additional facility for many that are on a waiting list.  The Governor recently signed the bill into law and we can now rest assured that these homes will continue to give care to the many veterans that have earned it.
Also this year, we were able to do something positive for our veterans by passing legislation that established days to pay tribute to their courage and patriotism.  The bill designates March 30 of each year as “Vietnam Veterans Day” and March 26 of each year as “Veterans of Operation Iraq/Enduring Freedom Day.”  These days of recognition are meant to encourage citizens to celebrate with appropriate events, activities and remembrances in honor of Missouri’s veterans.  The courage and sacrifices made in these two wars has been overlooked by many in the past and recognition is overdue.
The bill also authorizes the governor to present the Order of the Minuteman Award to a military or civilian individual who has distinguished himself or herself by exceptional meritorious service and achievement.  In addition, the bill creates the Missouri National Guard Overseas Training Ribbon and the Missouri National Guard State Partnership Program Ribbon.
These are small things we can do to pay tribute to our veterans but important to remind our veterans that we have not forgotten their service and will continue to recognize their efforts in every way we can.
If you have questions, you may reach me at my Capitol number 573-751-9465, at the local district number, 660-582-4014, by email at or by mail at Room 401B State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

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