The Medal of Honor: They did their part, now let’s do ours
As a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have had the distinct honor and privilege to lead and serve alongside some of the most extraordinary, heroic, and selfless Americans our nation has ever produced. I’m inspired every day by their devotion to duty, country, and each other. As Americans, we should honor them and their families for their dedication, valor, and sacrifices to allow us to continue to live free and safe.
The most decorated of these heroes are the recipients of the Medal of Honor. These are the heroes who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, often sacrificing their lives under nearly hopeless circumstances so that their brothers and sisters in uniform can live.
Now, too many of our veterans are struggling to make ends meet. Too many are grappling with the wounds of war, both visible and non-visible, while their loved ones try to care for their well-being. These challenges have become even more pronounced in recent years with the pandemic economic shutdown and the inflationary pressures that were supercharged by an unfettered spending spree in Washington.
It is unconscionable that we have allowed our highest heroes to struggle financially. Our nation owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude for the heroic deeds of Medal of Honor Recipients.
On April 27, 1916, Congress created the Army and Navy Medal of Honor Roll and entitled Medal of Honor recipients to a special pension of $10 per month for life. Eligibility for this pension is based solely on receipt of the Medal of Honor and is paid to any eligible individuals and their survivors. Today, that pension is only $1,487.37 monthly or roughly $18,000 yearly. Is this how much we should value Medal of Honor recipients who selflessly went above and beyond the call of duty on the battlefield?
A step towards helping our heroes, and their families, is to increase the pensions of Medal of Honor recipients.
To address this, Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and I introduced the Medal of Honor Act, which would increase the special monthly pension that Medal of Honor Recipients receive to an annualized amount of $100,000.
Medal of Honor Recipient Clint Romesha shared with us how this legislation will further bring certainty to his family: “I got to watch so many heroic acts from the bravest men I know, which also happens to be the worst day of my life. Keeping my brothers’ memory alive through frequent speaking engagements is therapeutic, but it comes with a heavy price. The Medal of Honor Act helps bring peace of mind knowing that my family and I will be taken care of without worrying about future employment beyond military service.”
Staff Sergeant Romesha risked his life in helping repel an attack by 300 enemy fighters in Afghanistan — exposing himself frequently to enemy fire to help his fellow soldiers. His servant leadership shouldn’t be taken for granted, and we owe it to him and other Medal of Honor Recipients to ensure they and their families are taken care of.
This bill is a small step forward but one we can take to begin the broader dialogue to ensure all our veterans, and their families, receive the care and resources they need.
We must look introspectively as a nation and assess if we are doing all we can to take care of our heroes who fought and continue fighting to keep America safe and preserve generations of freedom. We can and must continue to do more.
Troy Nehls proudly represents Texas’ 22nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before his election to Congress, he spent nearly 30 years in law enforcement and served for 21 years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
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