WASHINGTON, DC – Two powerful veterans advocacy leaders teamed up today in a letter to House Committee on Natural Resources Chair, Raul Grijalva, urging passage of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would establish a National Mall memorial dedicated to those who served and were lost in the Global War on Terror.
In the letter, Jon Soltz, Iraq war veteran and Chairman of VoteVets, and Executive Director of the Union Veterans Council at the AFL-CIO and Iraq War veteran Will Attig wrote, “We’ve honored veterans and fallen service members from the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II and those from Washington, D.C., who served in World War I. This generation of warfighters deserves equal reverence and gratitude, and we must fully acknowledge their service and sacrifice with a memorial on the National Mall.”
They continued, “The power, healing, and closure a memorial on the national mall can bring has been proven before with the building of the Vietnam Memorial, and the life-changing stories that came with it. With this amendment it is time to reopen the book and give that same kind of closure and healing to the Global War on Terrorism community.”
The full letter is below.
Congressman Jason Crow – himself a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – is leading the House effort to include authorization for a memorial, in the NDAA. His amendment, #529, is identical to a stand-alone bill, HR 1115, which has 173 co-sponsors, from both parties. Its Senate companion bill has 23 co-sponsors, from each party.
Founded in 2006, and backed by over 1.5 million supporters, VoteVets Action Fund is a 501c(4) organization, whose primary purpose is to advocate for issues that impact troops, veterans, and their families. VoteVets Action Fund focuses on matters including, but not limited to, foreign policy (including war-making policy), veterans’ unemployment, robust investment in care for veterans, energy security, protecting the rights of those who serve, and upholding the Constitution and democracy that every military member swore to uphold and protect. It is the largest group of progressive veterans in America.
The Union Veterans Council brings working class veterans together to speak out on the issues that impact us most, especially the need for good jobs and a strong, fully funded and staffed VA. Additionally, we hold private enterprise and elected officials accountable for their words and actions. We believe wholeheartedly that the ability for someone to self-identify as “pro-veteran” isn’t determined by what lapel pin they don or what catchphrase they employ; veterans face real issues that require real actions—constructive actions that lead to positive solutions. Learn more at www.unionveterans.org.
The Honorable Raul Grijalva
Chairman, House Natural Resources Committee
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
September 20, 2021
We write to you on behalf of the millions of veterans, military families and supporters our organizations collectively serve to express our gratitude for your commitment to the service community and their families.
We respectfully request that you continue to honor Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) service members and their families by supporting inclusion of Amendment #529, an amendment from Rep. Jason Crow and 44 additional co-signers, that would honor all who’ve served in the GWOT by providing a permanent place of honor and remembrance within the National Reserve, in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.
As Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and a leader in the House of Representatives, you have a unique opportunity to set an example as our service members return home after two decades at war in our nation’s longest ongoing conflict. We ask that you honor them in the place our nation has set aside for our heroes and history: the Reserve portion of our National Mall.
We are part of the service community, and we have seen firsthand the immeasurable impact this twenty-year conflict has had on Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Civil Servants, first responders, and other civilian personnel that have supported and continue to support the United States and their families.
Our service members were given a mission: to protect the United States from the threat of terrorism. In pursuit of that mission, multiple generations of Americans made profound sacrifices — sacrifices that many are only beginning to understand.
Just weeks ago, 13 service members were killed bravely carrying out the U.S. mission to end combat operations in Afghanistan. In the last 20 years, 7,052 service members have given the last full measure in defense of their homeland and their fellow Americans. Countless more have been lost to suicide and toxic exposure.
We’ve honored veterans and fallen service members from the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II and those from Washington, D.C., who served in World War I. This generation of warfighters deserves equal reverence and gratitude, and we must fully acknowledge their service and sacrifice with a memorial on the National Mall.
Amendment #529 would permit the Global War on Terrorism Memorial to be built in the Reserve of the National Mall. The stand-alone bill (H.R. 1115, which is identical to the amendment), is strongly bipartisan and has 173 co-sponsors. The Senate companion, S. 535, has 23 bipartisan cosponsors. The level of support this effort has gained in Congress is a direct reflection of sentiments among our diverse body of veteran members, many of whom served in the Global War on Terrorism.
Today Post 9/11 veterans have taken up the mantle of service at home as leaders in their communities and when given the opportunity they thrive in the workforce–even serving in key roles including national union presidents, chairmen, community leaders, and even members of Congress who work directly with you but many also continue to struggle to find a place and closure at home.
The power, healing and closure a memorial on the national mall can bring has been proven before with the building of the Vietnam Memorial, and the life changing stories that came with it. With this amendment it is time to reopen the book and give that same kind of closure and healing to the Global War on Terrorism community.
Twenty years after 9/11, and as the war in Afghanistan winds down, we ask you to embrace GWOT veterans and honor them by locating the memorial on the Reserve.
Union Veterans Councils, AFL-CIO
CC: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith, House Veterans Affairs Chair Mark Takano, House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern