On Veterans Day, it is important to take the time to thank the brave men and women who put their lives on the line and serve our country to protect our freedom. We must not only honor the extraordinary service and sacrifice of our Veterans but also that of their families. Their spouses, children and parents offer incredible support and often serve as a caregiver when their veteran returns home from service.
I often reflect on something my father, Governor Casey, once said when he was addressing service members before the first Gulf War. He said, “We pray for the military families and for their loved ones serving around the globe; we also pray that we may be worthy of their valor.”
It is our duty to ensure that our Veterans receive the services and care they have earned and that they have access to every opportunity after their service. This includes access to quality mental health care. Not all Veterans experience mental health issues, but as we have seen, timely access to mental health care for those do is invaluable.
I encourage everyone to honor the sacrifice of our Veterans not only on Veterans Day but throughout the year. Whether through sending care packages or cards to those serving overseas, shaking hands with a serviceman or servicewoman, or offering a prayer for Veterans and their families, we must always act in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice.
I am pleased to see that both the Senate and House have approved legislation to rename the Philadelphia VA Medical Center after Corporal Michael J. Crescenz. As an original co-sponsor of this legislation in the Senate, I am proud to see that Corporal Crescenz courageous actions are being appropriately honored as Philadelphia’s only Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.
Re-naming of the Philadelphia VA Medical Center is a tribute to the heroism of Corporal Michael Crescenz, as well as servicemembers across the country and throughout our history who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep American's safe. As this dedication now moves to the President’s desk for his signature, it will serve as a reminder of the debt of gratitude we all owe to these brave men and women.
His full Medal of Honor citation is available here.
This December 7th marks the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” when the Japanese attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Over 2,400 Americans were lost on that day while defending their country.
The battleship USS Pennsylvania was stationed at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day. It was undergoing maintenance in a drydock. This positioning allowed the USS Pennsylvania to be one of the first ships to open fire on the Japanese attackers. During the attack, it sustained minor damage and later served honorably in the Pacific for the remainder of the War.
The state of Pennsylvania lost nearly two dozen of its native sons during the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Included in this total is Chief Boatswain Edwin Joseph Hill of Philadelphia, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack. Click here to read more on Chief Boatswain Hill.
Seventy-two years later, I ask that all Pennsylvanians honor and remember the sacrifices that those brave sailors paid at Pearl Harbor. Having occurred so long ago, the members of the “greatest generation” are becoming all the more rare and yet are becoming all the more exceptional as examples to live selflessly and patriotically.
The “first national” Thanksgiving was declared in York, Pennsylvania in 1777. During the American War for Independence, Philadelphia was captured by the British– forcing the Continental Congress to move to York. The new location is where Congress learned of the victory at the Battle of Saratoga– a decisive turning point in the war. This prompted the first declaration of “a day of Thanksgiving” to be held on Thursday, December 18, 1777. 
With Thanksgiving approaching, I am particularly grateful for the service and sacrifice of our servicemembers and their families. Many military families will prepare for their holiday meals with the support of their local commissaries and post exchanges (PX). Commissaries and Post Exchanges are a component of the essential Moral Welfare and Recreational (MWR) services that enhance the lives of soldiers and their family members. I support the construction of the relocated Commissary and PX in Moon Township, PA which will be a part of the Pittsburgh Area Military Community that will aid our servicemembers and their families both on duty and at home.
As I reflect on what I am thankful for this holiday, I will remember the great sacrifices that have been made by our men and women in uniform who bravely choose to protect and defend their country. As many servicemembers spend their holiday away from their families, they can be comforted by knowing they are in our thoughts and hearts.
When I meet with Pennsylvanian servicemembers, veterans, and their families, I am always humbled by their remarkable patriotism, resilience, and sense of duty. Military families understand what it means to answer the call of duty, rising above and beyond, to serve our nation. Strong families clearly form the backbone of our strong military. I believe that supporting military families is crucial to the wellbeing of our servicemembers and the quality of our all-volunteer force.
As we celebrate Military Families Appreciation Month, I want to highlight just a few of the organizations and resources available to support Pennsylvania’s military families.
The Army Strong Community Center in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, works to strengthen our armed service through effective community support for military families.
Operation Military Kids in University Park, Pennsylvania, works to support the estimated 32,000 Pennsylvanian children who have a parent serving in the military.
Operation Homefront is a nationwide organization with an office in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. They work to provide families with “relief during a crisis, a place to recover, and recognition for a life of sacrifice.”
The Pennsylvania Military Family Relief Assistance Program works with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in Annville, Pennsylvania. PA MFRAP “provides financial assistance, in the form of grants, to eligible Pennsylvania service members and their eligible family members.”
The Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, “provides scholarships and grants to needy Lehigh Valley military families; sponsors public events to foster patriotism and respect for those that have served and are still serving in the US Armed Forces; supports local military units and activities.”
The Armed Services YMCA has partnered with the Department of Defense to provide child care services to military families.
The American Red Cross in Reno, Pennsylvania, “provides emergency assistance, public education, disaster assistance, military services which include emergency communications between the services person and his/her family, financial assistance for service persons on emergency leave and support groups for the military families.”
The Pennsylvania National Guard Foundation is a “charitable organization serving the Pennsylvania National Guard, its soldier, airmen, and families.” This foundation supports fundraising efforts and projects to assist the Pennsylvania National Guard, its personnel and families.
In addition to these organizations, my office is always ready to assist. I appreciate hearing from all Pennsylvanians on issues that are important to them.