Homeland Security

Ensuring all our veterans have access to best available healthcare

Veterans Day is a chance to give thanks to all the men and women who fight tirelessly to keep us free, including the 495,800 veterans in the state of Tennessee. Veterans Day serves as a powerful reminder of how our nation’s liberty and justice has been preserved by the dedication of our armed forces. But this special day also underscores our nation’s commitment to its veterans and their families.

It is my highest duty and privilege to ensure the veterans of the First District of Tennessee are taken care of. As a fellow veteran, I honor the devotion, service and legacy our veterans have instilled on our culture, even as many often regard their own military service with modesty and humility.

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Making the VA work for our veterans

As a veteran, I understand the hardships and sacrifice of military service. Throughout my tenure in Congress, it has been an honor to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee working on behalf of those who have safeguarded our freedom.

Veterans Day is a special occasion providing us the opportunity to honor the dedication and love of country held by those Americans who served in the armed forces. In a way, every day we enjoy our liberties is Veterans Day.

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Working together serves our veterans

Growing up in a military family helped me understand the sacrifices of our service members and their families. My dad’s twenty years of service in the Air Force inspires me to uphold our commitment to take care of those who put their lives on the line to protect our nation and our ideals.

Honoring that commitment takes a bipartisan effort. When we work together, we can deliver on the promises we made to our veterans.

Here’s an example. The Post 9/11 GI Benefit has brought historic reforms to veterans’ education benefits in recent years. Republicans and Democrats rallied behind the effort to pass this landmark law. As a result, we were able to provide the largest single increase in veterans’ education benefits since World War II. Since its implementation, we have provided educational benefits to nearly 775,000 veterans and their families for college degrees as well as vocational and on-the-job training.

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Remember the families of our fallen military

Today, on Veteran’s Day, America honors those who have put their lives on the line in service to this great nation through its Armed Forces.The cost of freedom is the sacrifice made by those few who pay the ultimate price, whether they died in military training accidents preparing for deployment, in combat in Afghanistan or Iraq, or from a sudden illness or by suicide.

The families they leave behind grieve mightily for their loved ones, those who never get to march proudly down Main Street in a Veteran’s Day parade or join the American Legion Post. Widows and children often move to new communities or return to “hometowns” they haven’t lived in for years. Survivors may struggle with anxiety, depression, insomnia, memory loss and a host of issues that take months or years to resolve. They must somehow find their strength anew and rebuild new futures. It takes 5-7 years for those grieving a traumatic loss to reach a “new normal.” 

Thankfully, they don’t have to grieve alone. We honor those who never made it home to become veterans, by caring for those they loved and left behind. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is here to offer comfort and care for all who are grieving the death of someone who died while serving in the Armed Forces.

Find information and get involved at www.taps.org.

Carroll is the founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
 and the surviving spouse of U.S. Army Brigadier General Tom Carroll, who died in 1992 in a military aviation accident.

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Bringing cognitive science to the intelligence community

The challenges to the American intelligence community have never been greater. Uprisings in the Middle East, the campaign to contain nuclear
proliferation, civil infighting in the developing world, terrorist attacks -- the issues the country's intelligence analysts must confront are immense and proliferating.

These efforts could be greatly aided by insights from an exciting field called cognitive science. Put simply, cognitive science investigates how we think. Recent findings from this field have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of human decision-making.

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Romney remains vague on immigration

In this digital age we have the benefit of looking back at Mitt Romney’s previous statements so we know exactly what he has said before. Apparently, when she wrote her blog “A President Romney will fix our immigration policy” Rosario Marin forgot to take a look at what Romney has been saying about immigration and what he might do if elected president.

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Conservatives and immigration policy: The personal responsibility conundrum

While the issue of Immigration Policy was not addressed in the first Presidential debate, it is a topic that both progressives and conservatives know must soon be dealt with. Both campaigns are promising as much. Therefore, I would like to address some of the ideology that goes into conservative thought on this subject. Specifically, I would like to address the relationship between immigration policy and the concept of “personal responsibility.” The idea of accepting personal responsibility is central to the fundamental tenets of conservative political ideology. It is also fundamental to the tenets of immigration policy. More specifically, we have to look at the whole concept of comprehensive immigration reform through the “personal responsibility” lens. Please allow me to flesh out the specifics and reasoning behind this statement.

When we talk about comprehensive immigration reform, we are talking about border security, worksite security, visa security, visa allotment, and visa realignment. All of these issues are part and parcel of any discussion of reform. However, the most difficult aspect of reform, and the “elephant in the room,” in any reform discussion, centers on the question of the 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants, and how we should treat them through any reform.

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Justice has not yet been served

Two weeks ago Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report detailing many of the failures within the department and its operations related to Operation Fast and Furious. Immediately after, this administration and numerous media outlets kicked their spin machines into high gear in defense of Attorney General Eric Holder. Their number one mission: convince the American public that the search for answers is over and celebrate the exoneration of Attorney General Holder.  

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Fast and Furious: Three takeaways from IG's report

After 20 months, the inspector general concluded his investigation and published a report on the Department of Justice’s handling of “Operation Fast and Furious.” Inspector General Horowitz had a difficult job, and he did it well. While congressional oversight of “Fast and Furious” is by no means complete, the issuance of the inspector general’s report provides an appropriate opportunity for reflection. 

There are at least three major takeaways from the Inspector General’s report:

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Fast and Furious: Failures in leadership and communication

Last week, after an 18-month investigation, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG), Michael Horowitz, released his 471-page investigative report and findings on Operation Fast & Furious. While many in Washington lined up to claim victory and vindication, the details of the IG’s findings present a sobering assessment of a Department of Justice (DOJ) and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that suffers from both failures in leadership and communication. It also underscored their unwillingness to work with Congress to discover the truth. The harsh reality of this negligence left a U.S. Border Patrol Agent and Michigan native, Brian Terry, dead and his family left wondering why it happened.

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