ON A SUNNY morning last summer, I held my granddaughter Natalie’s hand as we passed beneath the gleaming St. Louis Arch. I could see so much of her dad in her — the determination that pushed him to join the Delaware Army National Guard after 9/11 and the integrity he brought to his service in Iraq.
I was so glad she and her brother, Hunter, could be with Joe and me as we joined six incredible veterans that day.
We had come to this Gateway city for the Walk of America, a project that brought veterans from both sides of the Atlantic who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan to cross the continent by foot. Along the way we were hoping to bridge another divide, to raise awareness of the challenges that veterans can face when they return home from war and the untapped potential that exists when they get the support they need.
All six of the veterans had faced challenges after their deployments — from depression and suicidal thoughts to homelessness and difficulty finding employment.
Each of them had overcome enormous challenges. Each of them felt challenged to prove they could accomplish this new mission, but they also told us they weren’t there for themselves alone. They hoped that by telling their stories, they could help others.
Even after tours of duty come to an end, our military community finds ways to keep serving. And while this community is strong and resilient, too often our veterans don’t get the support they need from us.
As Joe often says, making sure our veterans and their families have the opportunities and support they have earned is not a kindness — it’s a sacred obligation. It’s the promise we make to them when they take their pledge to defend our country.
Joe and I believe that there is no greater honor or privilege than serving those who have served us. During the Obama-Biden Administration, we oversaw a 76 percent increase in funding for veterans’ mental health and brought down veteran unemployment from nearly 10 percent to less than 5 percent. But there is still so much to do.
As President, Joe will restore integrity and stability to the Oval Office. He will rebuild our relationships with allies around the world and enact a sound foreign policy that keeps us safe at home and keeps our troops safe abroad. And he will make sure that every member of our military — as well as their families — has the support they need throughout their service and after.
He’ll work tirelessly to improve health outcomes for our veterans, increase economic opportunities, and continue to address suicide and homelessness in our military community.
Our veterans don’t set aside duty just because their tours are over. They find new ways to give back and lift up our communities.
And we need to be just as generous, hardworking, and courageous when it comes to serving them. Our duty demands nothing less.