Senator John ThuneCongress is currently focused on the health care reform debate, and South Dakotans are understandably paying close attention. While domestic issues like health care may be the primary issues in Washington right now, it is important for national leaders to not lose sight of the fact that every day there are American men and women who are serving overseas in our Armed Forces. The families in South Dakota who pray for the safe return of their loved ones deserve our gratitude and respect.
South Dakota has a long tradition of military service that continues to the present day. Since the September 11th attacks, units from the South Dakota National Guard and Air National Guard have been deployed on 25 separate occasions. The brave men and women who serve in the National Guard must balance their civilian lives, families, and careers with their commitment to serving our nation. Their role in defending our freedom around the globe cannot be overstated.
This month, the 211th Engineer Company was activated, including Bruce Jones, who works in my Sioux Falls office. This South Dakota National Guard unit will be deployed to Afghanistan in the near future, where they will provide engineering support. I ask all South Dakotans to join me in praying for their safety throughout this deployment.
These citizen-soldiers will leave behind friends and families who will face their own challenges in being separated from their loved ones. The resilience and sacrifice of the families is certainly not forgotten. There are many families in South Dakota, not just those with loved ones in the 211th, who are waiting for the safe return of a soldier. I thank them for their dedication and their sacrifice.
American service members are in harm's way in several locations around the world. The South Dakota men and women who are stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the globe are performing an extraordinary service. Back home, all of us should join together in offering not only our prayers and best wishes for their safe return home but also any assistance that their family members may need while they are deployed.