Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on Memorial Day, 2011:

"America is protected by the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. Every day, the men and women of the United States military perform an array of security, emergency relief, and development operations in challenging environments across the globe. Their dedication to their mission, courage, and professionalism represents the very best our country has to offer. Memorial Day provides the opportunity to honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in service to our country. Today we also extend heartfelt thanks to all members of the United States Armed Forces, past and present, whose service makes possible our way of life. 

“Americans’ gratitude must include service members and military families alike, who together make tremendous sacrifices for the safety of this country. It is fitting that the House of Representatives just passed the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a pay raise for all members of the Armed Services, as well as improved support for their families. 

“It is important for Congress to remain committed to members of the Armed Forces, both during their service and after they have transitioned to a new phase of life. Department of Labor statistics show an alarmingly high rate of unemployment for veterans, almost 27% for servicemembers between the ages of 20-24, who have recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. As a nation, we cannot allow these young men and women to fall through the cracks. With that in mind, I am co-sponsoring The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, designed to help veterans transition successfully from military service to the civilian working world. The bill augments vocational assessment and training for separating servicemembers, creates a competitive grant program for organizations that provide mentorship and job placement for veterans, and eliminates barriers for military members to achieve civilian licenses for occupational specialties gained during service. These provisions will ensure that America’s commitment to supporting our military men and women does not end when they leave active duty.

“On Memorial Day, please join me in showing gratitude to the servicemembers, veterans, and their families whose sacrifice protects Americans everywhere.”