Our troops deserve recognition and thanks this holiday season

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The holiday season is upon us. Montana families across our state are giving thanks and enjoying quality time with their families and loved ones.

As we gather around the dining table this year to express our gratitude, let us not forget the extraordinary privilege we have as free Americans.

I want to give thanks to our currently deployed Montana service members, unable to be home for the holidays this year. Thank you for protecting our nation. I also want to express my gratitude to their families here at home, missing their loved ones during this blessed season.

Every November on Veterans Day, we set aside time to honor and recognize the brave men and women who served our nation in defense of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. But one day isnít enough.

In Montana, we have an incredible legacy of service. Our great state has one of the highest veterans population per capita in the country. I know I speak for most Montanans when I say that growing up, we learned early on about the importance of service before self.

For me, that lesson was taught by my father, who was a Marine, serving in the 58th Rifle company in Billings.

He instilled in me the values of hard work, sacrifice and service to others. And those same values that my dad taught me are held by all of our veterans across Montana.

Itís because of the service of Montanaís veterans that we are able to live our lives in peace and freedom. We must never forget that, and we must never take their service in vain.

The price of freedom is steep, and our veterans have paid far more than their fair share.

The transition to civilian life isnít always easy ó for our veterans or their families. The pain and the trauma some of our veterans endure will not simply fade away overnight.

There is no easy fix. There is no simple solution.

As Montanaís voice in the U.S. Senate, I have had the privilege to meet with so many of our great veterans over the years. I have learned that what our veterans need most is someone who will not only listen to their concerns and frustrations, but act on their behalf.

That means recognizing our veterans for their achievements or working on their behalf through bipartisan legislation, solutions and casework.

I have introduced a number of solutions to help resolve issues plaguing our veterans, like my bill to protect veterans and their pensions from scam artists.

Iíve also led the bipartisan effort to ensure our Navy veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam receive the healthcare they earned.

I stand committed to working on behalf of our veterans, and I always will.

Throughout history, America has been a beacon of hope and freedom around the world. In the face of conflict and evil we have always overcome.

Every generation, patriots have answered the call to service in defense of our country, and in defense of freedom and democracy. Their bravery and willingness to serve is a testament to the American spirit.

Those who risk it all and put their lives on the line in defense of our nation deserve the utmost honor, thanks and care.

This holiday season, I am thankful to all of our veterans for their service. Because of them our country is safer, stronger and freer. God bless our military, our veterans and the United States of America.

Steve Daines is the junior U.S. Senator from Montana.

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