Grassley op-ed: Preserving the legacies of Iowa’s service members through the Veterans History Project
Oct 25, 2019
By Sen. Chuck Grassley
Serving and honoring those who have selflessly served us and this nation through military service is important. The sacrifices our service members and their families make on our behalf is great and their efforts deserve our continuing respect and admiration.
As one of Iowa’s U.S. senators, I’ve pushed for increased oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure veterans in Iowa and throughout the country are able to access and receive quality care when they need it. Those efforts have included addressing VA waitlists that led to preventable deaths of veterans, strengthening mental health and suicide prevention services for veterans and improving whistleblower protections that help expose waste, fraud and abuse that lead to poor treatment of veterans at VA hospitals.
Caring for our veterans also includes preserving their stories and ensuring that their service and memories are never forgotten.
The Veterans History Project was approved by Congress and the president nearly two decades ago. Since then, more than 100,000 veterans across the country have told their personal stories on audio and video recordings. Those stories are housed at the Library of Congress in a stunning collection that will provide future generations with moving, first-hand accounts of our nation’s wartime history.
Iowa has a rich history of supporting our nation’s military. More than 76,000 Iowans served in the Civil War; more than any other state on a per capita basis. Nearly 115,000 Iowans served in World War I and more than 225,000 served in World War II. Approximately 85,000 served in Korea, 115,000 in Vietnam, 3,000 in the Persian Gulf and thousands more in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As time passes, the stories of our service members are often lost. Sadly, the history and lessons they learned are often lost with them. That’s why I’m working to help preserve these tales of bravery through the Veterans History Project.
There are nearly 220,000 veterans who call Iowa home. Each of their stories deserve to be heard. Last fall, I invited Iowans to take part in my first Veterans History Project Day at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston. Twenty Iowa veterans and many of their families took part in the event. Earlier this year, I was honored to deliver their recorded interviews and military documents to the Library of Congress, where they will be cataloged and made available to the public.
This year, I’ll again be inviting Iowa veterans to participate in this meaningful event. With the help of volunteers from Marshalltown Community College, my office will record veterans’ stories at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown on Nov. 8. I encourage Iowa veterans to participate in this special project and share your stories with millions of Americans for generations to come. You can learn more at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/veteranshistoryproject.
Supporting and caring for our service members means addressing the physical, mental and emotional needs of our veterans. While my congressional colleagues and I will continue to push for legislative solutions that will help improve services for physical and mental needs of veterans, I also want to highlight the importance of efforts like the Veterans History Project. Not only does it help capture significant moments in our nation’s history, but it helps veterans talk about their experiences, share their stories and bring Americans together in celebration of their contributions to the country.