This past weekend our Country celebrated our Independence. We honored our forefathers and the young men and women who fought and died for our freedom in the Revolutionary War and all of those who have protected that freedom over the course of our history.
I was fortunate enough to attend a celebration on the Fourth of July at the Miami-Homestead Speedway, where I witnessed the swearing in of five young men into the United States Army.
I also had the opportunity to present seven active-duty, reserve, and retired veterans with a copy of a Congressional Record highlighting seven extraordinarily brave service men and women whose military service records will become a part of U.S. history.
While we dedicate one day of the year to celebrate our independence as a nation, we need to make sure that our government continues to honor and provide for our veterans every day, because their work in protecting our freedom is a round the clock effort.
The recent failings of the Veterans Administration in Arizona are a stark reminder of the fact that we have not honored and provided for our vets. Since being elected to office in 2012, I have been committed to making sure south Florida veterans get the care they need. On Capitol Hill and in the district, I have put our veterans first.
While in Washington, I’ve worked across the aisle with my Republican colleagues to get the Veterans Care Act passed, which allows veterans who can’t get the care they need in the VA system, to be able to visit non-VA facilities to receive care.
Other initiatives I have sponsored, like the Veterans Conservations Corps Act, are still working their way through Congress. If passed, this bill would help members of our armed forces transition to civilian life by creating employment opportunities that leverage the skills they have developed in the military, and help restore our national and state forests, parks and coastal areas.
Back in the district, I have met with VA officials, held nearly a dozen roundtables in South Florida with veterans, doctors and clinic staff, and have toured every VA clinic and hospital in the district. It is absolutely necessary that from Kendall to Key West, I understand what is broken and what needs to be fixed.
As a Congressman and Westchester native, I am aware of the proud military history that exists in Florida’s 26th district, which is home to U.S. Southern Command and five military bases and veterans clinics.
I can promise you that I am doing all I can to guarantee our veterans are not left behind.
Rep. Joe Garcia represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which runs from Kendall to Key West.