By U.S. Rep. Billy Long
Working with Veterans has always been one of the most rewarding aspects of serving as your congressman these past 11 years. The men and women who have selflessly served our country deserve all the thanks we can give them for the sacrifices they have made. Ceremonies and celebrations take place across the nation each year, and over the last several years here in Missouri’s 7th Congressional District, I have taken part in an incredible tradition.
On Wednesday, we held our Annual Fishing Dreams for Veterans event on Lake Taneycomo in Branson. Every year we take disabled veterans fishing from across the state of Missouri. This year we set a record by taking 112 veterans – including a100 year old D-Day survivor – fishing with 50 professional guides that donated their time, boats and equipment to the effort. I’m always thrilled to see how happy they are to be out on the lake in the great outdoors. There are always plenty of tears flowing as they are used to hearing “thank you for your service,” but many are touched deeply by someone actually taking the time to spend the day with them and treating them like royalty.
Fishing Dreams would not be possible without the hard work of our sponsors Bass Pro Shops, Diversified Freedom for Disabilities and Fish Tails. Both Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, and J.P. Sells, the Director of Diversified Freedom for Disabilities and Fish Tails, have always had a tremendous appreciation for our veterans and the work that they did to secure our freedoms. That is why they partner with us in putting together this experience every year.
Freedom is not free. The men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces understand this fact better than anyone. Whether they were drafted or enlisted, they answered duty’s call. In the last several decades, our nation has liberated Europe from Nazi occupation, held back communist advances, and fought against the terrorists who attacked our country on 9/11. None of this could have been accomplished without the men and women of the American Military. Hundreds of millions of Americans live in peace now because of the sacrifices made by these brave heroes.
After going out on the lake, we have lunch to thank the veterans in attendance. Here, I present each of them with an American Flag that was flown over the United States Capitol Building. Whenever I visit with veterans and hear their stories, I am reminded of the unique role a congressman can play in their life. My office in Springfield has two caseworkers who deal specifically with the bureaucratic red tape at the Department of Veterans Affairs and all other federal agencies. If you are a constituent of the seventh district who is having issues with the VA, or any federal agency, I invite you to call my office at 417-889-1800, and we will assist you in navigating your issue. Ask for Lisa or Sydney.
Each year, I am humbled to spend time with the disabled veterans who participate in the Fishing Dreams event. It was an honor to join these veterans, and I am grateful to Fishing Dreams and Bass Pro Shops for once again hosting a successful event.
For more information on my activities in our district and in Washington I encourage you to follow my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rep.Billy.Long and my Twitter page at https://twitter.com/USRepLong. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter, “Long’s Short Report,” by visiting https://longforms.house.gov/newsletter-and-email-updates-form