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America must "keep its promise" to our veterans, UMWA's Roberts tells Commission on the Future for America's Veterans

January 16, 2007

America's veterans have "sacrificed more than we can ever repay, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do whatever we can to help them now and for the rest of their lives" United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts said today at a town hall meeting in the West Virginia State Capitol.

"These brave men and women answered their country's call, and in so doing have left parts and pieces of themselves on battlefields across the world," Roberts said. "Our nation promised to take care of their health care in return for their fight for freedom, and America must keep its promise to them."

Roberts spoke at the "Conversations on the future for America's veterans" town meeting in Charleston, sponsored by the Commission on the Future for America's Veterans, a private, independent group that is examining what the needs of veterans will be 20 years in the future, and making recommendations to the federal government about how those needs should be met.

"There are thousands of young men and women who suffer debilitating wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan that would have killed them in previous wars," Roberts said. "Our military hospitals are doing a fantastic job to not only keep them alive but make them as whole as a person who is missing limbs can be. But then, once they're physically healed, many of these heroes are released with little or no support for what comes next -- months and years of physical and mental therapy to help them become successful in jobs, in raising their families, and in their communities."

Roberts, a Vietnam veteran, said that "we have a moral and ethical obligation to do better." He expressed support for proposals that would substantially restore the comprehensive education, housing, employment and health benefits "we rightfully considered deserved by those who fought in World War II."

"We must never forget nor diminish what our veterans have done for us and what those who are in harm's way right now continue to do for us," Roberts said. "The best way to do that is to make sure that our nation's promise to these brave men and women is kept."

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