Senator Warner spent Veteran’s Day in the Charlottesville area with veterans and their families.
His first stop included a visit to the University of Virginia campus. There, leaders from ParadeRest Virginia, a student-run non-profit dedicated to supporting military personnel, veterans, and their families, presented Senator Warner with more than 50 videos of the personal recollections of local World War II veterans. Senator Warner will submit the videos to the Library of Congress in Washington for the Veterans History Project, which collects, preserves, and makes accessible for future generations the personal accounts of America’s war veterans.
The ParadeRest videos were collected by UVA students as part of the “Nickel for your Story” project, which was funded largely through the online crowdfunding tool KickStarter. The project’s goal was to capture as many personal recollections of WWII from surviving veterans so that their sacrifices aren't forgotten. Warner, joined by students, veterans, and organizers, watched a preview of the videos on an overhead screen.
Two veterans interviewed for the project — Dr. Jim Kavanaugh and James Bingler — and their families were on hand to watch the preview. Afterwards, Senator Warner thanked them for their service during the war, and emphasized the importance for future generations of learning from their experiences.
“We wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for your efforts,” he said.
"WWII was something that you covered as a small chapter at the end of your school year, and sometimes it was skipped if you didn't get that far in American history," Senator Warner added. "I think it's really important that we realize this was the conflict of our age. Without the bravery these American veterans shown, we wouldn't have the country or event the world we live in today.”
Senator Warner said that his own father Robert, who is a WWII Marine veteran, did not begin to open up about his own experience during the war until relatively recently.
“If we don’t capture these voices, in a decade from now the number is going to be exponentially smaller,” Senator told the students and veterans in the audience.
Then, Senator Warner hopped in the car and headed to American Legion Post #74 in Keswick, where he paid tribute to the veterans present and spoke briefly about the work he is doing in the Senate to ensure that veterans get the care and benefits they have earned after their service.
Senator Warner noted that the day before, he had introduced bipartisan legislation, the Veterans Healthcare Staffing Improvement Act, to ease the transition of medical professionals from the Department of Defense into the VA system, in order to help the VA address staffing shortages and deliver more timely care to veterans.
Senator Warner pledged to the veterans present that honoring their service would continue to be one of his top priorities in the Senate.
After those remarks, Senator Warner recognized local World War II veterans in a special pinning ceremony along with Hospice of the Piedmont as part of the “We Honor Veterans” campaign. We Honor Veterans is a national joint effort of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Department of Veterans Affairs focusing on how to integrate the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families when providing end-of-life care.