On the heels of a pivotal national election, I'd like to remind Americans that it is our troops' service and sacrifice that safeguards our precious right to cast those ballots and savor the freedoms that we hold dear. They represent the best of America.
Yesterday, we honored all U.S. veterans and troops currently serving for their unwavering courage, their dedication to keeping our nation strong and protecting the liberties we continue to enjoy. We also paid tribute to the wounded, missing, fallen and their families.
My father, Ray, fought and was wounded in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, and I'm also an honorary Marine.
This year, the Defense Department is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War. At the height of the war, both of my brothers, Wieland and Aaron, enlisted in the U.S. Army. As a veteran, I understood their desire to serve, and I concurred with their decision to enlist. Wieland paid the ultimate price on June 3, 1970, and his name is etched among the 58,000 fallen service men and women on the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington, D.C.
We must never forget that freedom comes at a cost. As we go about our daily lives, our military men and woman make incredibly valiant sacrifices every day. In fact, more than 1,500 Americans have lost a leg or arm in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Defense Department, 50,159 have been wounded and 5,225 have made the ultimate sacrifice while in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, 60,000 U.S. troops are still at war. Many of our brave men and women face multiple overseas deployments, traumatic combat experiences and years away from their families. They endure unimaginable hardships so you and I may relish our freedoms here at home.
In 2010, my wife, Gena, and I visited West Point, where thousands of young cadets blew us away with how ready and eager they were to serve their country. Since then, we have also visited the wounded at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center along with Brooke Army Medical Center and its Center for the Intrepid.
During our visits to the medical centers, we were greatly moved by the care our veterans and military service members have been receiving. We were able to hear several stories as the wounded were eager to share their personal journeys with us. Those experiences were life changing, and we encourage everyone to go and visit our brothers and sisters at military hospitals across the nation. They need and welcome the company, and they must be reminded that we care about them and they haven't been forgotten.
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