Father’s Day Resonates in VA Legislation

An old game among kids has them bantering back and forth about the amazing feats of their fathers — specifically, what their dads can do better than other dads.

“My dad — fill in the blank — than your dad,” they say, pointing to how much higher their dads can jump, how much faster their dads can run, how much stronger or smarter their dads are, and, yes, even that their dads can “beat up” their peers’ dads (a claim that thankfully, few dads encourage).

Kids see nothing their dads cannot do.

But, as they age, they learn to backpedal from these assertions. Reality sets in. Dads get older. Children see limitations they once believed didn’t exist.
And yet, a funny thing happens.

The more they see their fathers’ physical shortcomings, the more those fathers grow into heroes.

Knowing that a father continues to pour into his family despite not being able to safely jump from a 10-story building, swim across the Atlantic Ocean, or outrun a Ferrari often deepens a child’s respect and honor for them.

I speak from experience, because my father, Don Crawford, still occupies the title of “Hero.” A retired Air Force officer, my dad still managed to dutifully raise three boys, of which I am the youngest. He lovingly and tirelessly cared for my mother for 50-plus years until she passed away last month.

Over the years, age has crept in, and he’s tended to others more than himself. He’s experienced his own set of health issues — limitations for sure.

Still, he continues to place his family above himself; the mark of a true father.

On June 10th, my House of Representatives colleagues and I unanimously passed the Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014 to ensure that all fathers (and mothers) who have faithfully served their country and families will not go without medical care. In a nutshell, the legislation requires the VA to seek medical care from non-VA facilities should a veteran face a long wait time or have to travel more than 40 miles to a VA facility.

As a former serviceman in the U.S. Army, I recognized the bill was the right thing to do for our military veterans. As the son of a former serviceman, the legislation takes on a whole new meaning.

Knowing my dad and dads across this nation have access to medical care when and where they need it honors their service to each of us. As they protected us, so too may we care for them.

That’s a better gift than a tie, I think.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and hero, Don Crawford.

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