American veterans disabled for life finally have their day: President Obama signs bill into law recognizing october 5 as appropriate day to honor American Veterans Disabled For Life. Florida philanthropist Lois Pope primary advocate for bill...
At a Veterans Day ceremony almost 20 years ago, Florida philanthropist and disabled veterans advocate Lois Pope said to then Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the now late Jesse Brown, "We have Veterans Day, complete with all the parades, pomp and pageantry. But, we should also have a day specifically for disabled veterans - a day for all Americans to show gratitude and support for the men and women who continue to bear the scars of war long after the fighting on the battlefield ends."
Nearly two decades later, Mrs. Pope's vision has now become a reality for the nation's four million-plus living disabled American veterans. Indeed, thanks to Mrs. Pope's indefatigable efforts - and with a huge assist from U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and others members of Congress - Congress has recognized the importance of establishing a day each year for all Americans to pay special honor to American Veterans Disabled for Life and has found that October 5th is an appropriate day to do so.
"Our wounded warriors have come home from battle missing arms and legs, blind and burned, and permanently traumatized both physically and emotionally. They left the war but the war will never leave them," declared Mrs. Pope, who has championed the cause of disabled veterans for more than a quarter-century. "Now we have an opportunity each year to recognize their courage, sacrifice and fortitude. I can't thank my friends-- Lois Frankel, Jeff Miller and all the other member of Congress - enough for bringing this day to fruition."
Congress's recognition of the need for the day was contained in the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Improvement Act of 2016, passed by the House on December 6th and by the Senate on December 10th. The provision itself was introduced in the House by Congresswoman Frankel and Congressman Miller and co-sponsored by 37 other Members of Congress. It was signed into law on December 16, 2016 by President Obama.
Rep. Frankel, whose son is a Marine veteran who served eight years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, cheered this day finally coming to fruition: "It is with profound appreciation that we recognize our brave men and women who return from war with life altering injuries. Helping these heroes has been a lifetime passion for Lois Pope."
October 5 has special significance to Mrs. Pope and disabled veterans across the country as it is the anniversary of the official dedication of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. She conceived of the memorial 18 years ago as the nation's first and only permanent public tribute to the country's millions of disabled veterans past and present, and spent the next nearly two decades chairing the non-profit authorized by then President Bill Clinton to build and endow it. It was dedicated in a ceremony presided over by President Barack Obama on Oct. 5, 2014.
In her remarks that day, Mrs. Pope said that the memorial should serve to "educate all of us, and generations to come, that war is not just about bullets, tanks, and I.E.D.s. War is not just about winners and losers, because in essence we all lose something or someone when nations take up arms against other nations, when humans take up arms against their fellow humans.
"It is my hope that Americans young and old visit the memorial and learn that the costs of war far transcend dollars and cents. Long after the fighting on the battlefield ends, the fight continues for our disabled veterans as they struggle to reintegrate into their families, their communities, and society at large," said Mrs. Pope. "We have a national obligation to recognize their service, and we have a moral responsibility to thank them for their sacrifices."
The newly recognized day to honor American Veterans Disabled for Life will be a time to do just this. It will be a day, Mrs. Pope noted, when "we can collectively express our enduring gratitude to these valiant women and men who, despite their frailties and infirmities, strive to live as hard-working, productive citizens, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. These brave men and women are forgotten no more!"
As one of America's leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels. She has established three different organizations dedicated to helping those in need. These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans' Life Memorial Foundation. Over the last 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, a summer camp program serving thousands of underprivileged children and groundbreaking programs with American Humane, including the Lois Pope Center for Military Affairs and the legendary Red Star Rescue. To learn more visit www.life-edu.org or call 561.582.8083.