Secretary of State John Kerry marked Veterans Day by making a plug for a United Nations treaty, while one senator is marking the day with a plug for a homeless veterans bill he wants the House to take up.
“Putting on a uniform and leaving your family behind to serve your country creates a lifelong bond among veterans. Veterans fight for their fellow vets and measure commitment in actions, not just words. That is another reason why I join Secretary Shinseki in urging the United States Senate to approve the Disabilities Treaty, so that our wounded warriors are able to work, travel, and live abroad with the same dignity and respect they enjoy at home,” Kerry said in a statement.
The treaty establishes a new international entity, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will consist of a maximum 18 “experts.” Countries will answer to the committee on everything from statistics collection to national implementation and monitoring. One article in the treaty states that “children with disabilities shall be registered immediately after birth.” Other articles stipulate that the “best interests of the child” as determined by the state should be a primary consideration in all matters concerning the disabled. Opponents include groups against abortion and homeschooling associations.
“I am also particularly mindful of the meaning of Veterans Day for the State Department. It’s been said that ‘war represents a failure of diplomacy.’ The State Department is committed to advancing diplomacy, day in and day out, so that if and when we have to send young Americans into harm’s way, it is only because we have exhausted all other options,” Kerry continued.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said “every generation has faced its own set of challenges, but the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces are united by their common duty and uncommon courage.”
“Veterans Day is equally important for non-veterans, because it is an opportunity for the American people to learn more about the great sacrifices that have been made on their behalf – especially during the past twelve years of war,” Hagel added. “The United States is now winding down the longest period of sustained combat in our history, but America’s obligations to those who answered the call to serve are only beginning.”
Still in their home districts from recess, House members planned to mark the day in hometown events. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) planned an afternoon event at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) will commemorate Veterans Day by laying a wreath at the African American Civil War Memorial with Mayor Vincent Gray. At the commemoration, Norton will honor two of the original Tuskegee Airmen who are D.C. residents. She will present the Congressional Gold Medal, now expanded to include the ground crew and all original members of the Tuskegee Airmen experience, to Major Louis Anderson, and she will honor William Fauntroy, Jr., who was recognized at the 2007 ceremony where the Tuskegee Airmen were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Norton and Mayor Gray will cite the sacrifice of D.C. veterans as a mandate to build on the recent struggle to free D.C.’s budget from the federal budget fight until budget autonomy for the District is achieved,” Norton’s office added.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) planned to appear at the South Park Inn, a homeless shelter in Hartford, to call for House action on the Helping Homeless Veterans Act, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent last week.
The bill includes as a homeless veteran, for purposes of eligibility for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, a veteran or veteran’s family fleeing domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions in the current housing situation, including where the health and safety of children are jeopardized, there is no other residence, and there is a lack of resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing, according to the Congressional Research Service summary.
President Obama hosted a breakfast for veterans and participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
“This Veterans Day I hope we are each reminded to value the freedoms and way of life these brave Americans fought to secure,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “And I hope we can show our gratitude and support to our veterans and the greater military community, not just on Veterans Day, but on every day of the year.”