November 9, 2009
Washington, D.C.—Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Our nation mourns every death of an American service member. We grieve alongside the families who sacrifice so much while their loved ones serve, and hurt even more when loved ones give the ultimate sacrifice. I will never forget a single one of the mothers and fathers I meet or call when a Nevadan doesn’t come home.
“We are especially heartbroken by last week’s tragedy in the heart of Texas. The entire United States Senate sends its deepest condolences to those who have lost mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives at Fort Hood. Our thoughts are with the troops who have lost their friends and fellow soldiers, and with those who continue to heal.
“These men and women died in the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. That is supposed to be the last place our troops go before they are deployed; no one ever suspects it will be the last place they would ever go.
“As we mourn, we honor the lives of those who died on their base. We hope for the full and speedy recoveries of those who are injured. And we are thankful for the men and women who stopped the gunman, came to the aid of the wounded, and exhibited the kind of heroism that makes our Armed Forces the best in the world.
“The 13 who died at Fort Hood were from 11 different states – states that border the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Great Lakes; states high in the Rockies and in Great Plains. These public servants ranged in rank from Private to Colonel and even included an Army Civilian.
“The oldest was a husband, father and grandfather from Spokane, Washington. He was a physician’s assistant who worked in rural clinics and veterans’ hospitals, and was just four years from retirement. The youngest was a 19-year-old private first class from northern Utah who was just months away from deploying to Afghanistan.
“A 29-year-old sergeant from Wisconsin joined her nation’s military after the September 11 attacks. A 21-year-old private from outside Chicago enlisted in the Army to help him afford college, where he dreamed of studying music.
“A 22-year-old specialist from Oklahoma had been married for just two months. A 21-year-old private from Chicago was three months pregnant.
“A 55-year old lieutenant colonel was a grandmother to six. A 52-year-old major spoke very little English when he came to this country from Mexico in his teens, but he earned a Ph.D. in psychology, became a teacher and ultimately chose to serve his country.
“And Kimberly Munley, a sergeant and civilian police officer who was shot several times, took down the alleged shooter even as she suffered from her own wounds.
“Yes, Fort Hood is home to truly remarkable, selfless Americans. Our nation honors them all and misses those who were murdered.
“The appropriate officials both inside and out of the Army will continue to investigate how such a tragedy occurred, and the United States Senate will support them any and every way we can.
“In the meantime, one of the ways we can support the brave Americans who volunteer for duty is by giving them the resources they need when they come home. We are trying to move forward on a package of bills that will make wounded veterans’ lives a little easier.
“Among other things, these bills will help veterans get access to the caregivers they need every day for even the smallest tasks. They will support veterans’ mental health services and other health needs, and they will make sure our veterans don’t have to live on the streets.
“Right now, a Republican Senator is single-handedly standing in the way of these bills. Under the rules of the Senate, he has a right to do so – but that doesn’t make it right. I hope he will drop his objections so we can put our veterans’ health ahead of political games.
“I also look forward to moving ahead with Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations legislation that will fund housing for military families, improve our bases and support veterans’ programs.
“And tomorrow morning, when the Senate convenes, we will observe a moment of silence to honor the fallen at Fort Hood. I encourage all Senators to come to the floor at that time.”