Earlier this month, I spent the Fourth of July with Minnesotans in Aurora, Gilbert, Ely, and Duluth. Across our state, we walked in parades, shared meals at picnics, and watched incredible fireworks — celebrating the great American experiment in democracy as it entered its 245th year.

Our democracy has persisted because of the bravery of our nation’s servicemembers and veterans.

Minnesotans have fought for our country going back to the ridges of Gettysburg, where the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry stood up for the idea of a more perfect union, to the beaches of Normandy, fighting not just for our democracy but for democracies all around the world, to the hills of Korea to the muddy fields of Vietnam and to the sands of Afghanistan and Iraq.

When we celebrate the birth of our country, we must also celebrate the heroes who defended it — and still defend it to this day.

I have always believed that when we ask our young men and women to fight in defense of our nation, we make a promise that we will give them the resources they need to do their jobs. We also promise to take care of them when they return home.

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By protecting the health and safety of active servicemembers, we can prevent injuries that cause long-term illness and disabilities. That’s why one of my priorities in the Senate is ensuring they have the resources and equipment they need to carry out their missions as safely as possible. We also need to better support National Guard Members and Reservists who continue to serve us at home and abroad.

When our servicemembers signed up to serve, they didn’t have to wait in line — and when they come home, they shouldn’t have to wait in line for the benefits they’ve earned. That’s why I’m fighting to make sure that our veterans get health care when they need it, have their disability claims processed, and access their GI benefits.

As a nation and as a state, we have an obligation to wrap our arms around those who serve and sacrifice for us. I am committed to continuing to ensure that we fully repay the sacrifices our veterans have made for all of us, in wars past and present.