After we made our way up a hill to his final resting spot, I placed a small U.S. flag and flowers on his tombstone. A merchant mariner, Madison transported ammunition, planes and medicine to soldiers on active duty — an activity that left him and his comrades unarmed during combat. The number of merchant mariners killed in that war is estimated at the rate of 1 in 26 — the highest casualty rate of any service. Traumatic experiences and mental health conditions can make reintegration into civilian life difficult. The agency that administers assistance and services for our wounded heroes continues to face its own battles in trying to provide quick and effective treatment for veterans who need it most. Last year, the 15-member commission tasked by Congress to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported several deficiencies that, despite a significant increase in funding over the past two years, continue to plague the agency. Let us work together to assist them in obtaining meaningful employment and ensuring they receive treatment for their mental and physical wounds.
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