This past week, Congress approved a $162 billion spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also provides veterans (who have served actively for at least three years) free college educations. That is the least we can do to help these patriots who serve this country so valiantly. We must continue to fight to care for those who have fought for us, particularly those who now are disabled for doing so.
As we approach another Independence Day, I've been thinking a lot about all of the great service members who have served, past and present, to provide and maintain the freedom we experience today. While we complain and murmur about gas prices at home, I call all Americans this week to reconsider the costs our service members continue to pay to fuel freedom -- especially those wounded in heart, mind and body. And I encourage you to pause from your Independence Day festivities to send a free postcard (made by American children) to our troops overseas through Xerox. Go to www.LetsSayThanks.com.
Without diminishing the respect we owe to America's hundreds of thousands of service members here and overseas, this week I want to salute in particular two superb examples of patriots -- valiant men who have served this country faithfully in times of peace and war and with whom I traveled during my tours of Iraq in 2006 and 2007 to greet roughly 40,000 troops at 30 bases.
In Iraq, Navy Capt. Mike Langston was the force chaplain for the Multi National Force-West in Anbar province. In Kabul, Afghanistan, Capt. Langston also served as the theater chaplain for Combined Forces Command. He just left Iraq as division chaplain for the 2nd Marine Division to assume the position of commanding officer for the Naval Chaplains School in Newport, R.I., where he will be responsible for all the Navy Chaplain Corps training for our chaplain officers and all the religious program specialists training in our Chaplain Corps.
I extend my sincere congratulations and thanks to Capt. Langston, who now serves in a critical and often overlooked area of service: military chaplaincy. He is a gentle and giant warrior who is always ready in season and out of season to serve both God and country. I must admit I'm a little biased here with Mike, as he also leads a multiple-black-belt martial arts family! My wife, Gena, and I wish him, his wife, Kathy, and their family the best in this promoted and patriotic service to our nation.