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Opinion: Veterans’ sacrifice has earned our lasting gratitude — and the promise of quality, affordable health care kept

After the 21-gun salute, Bob McElfresh, right, gives a hand salute as the rifle squad present arms. Members of the All Veterans Honor Guard recognize one of their own, Chris "Saint" Nielsen Jr. at Ft. Logan National Cemetery on Nov. 6, 2019 in Denver. Nielsen served as chaplain for the honor guard for 15 years. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

As we celebrate the 101st anniversary of when “the war to end all wars” was ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember those who fought for our country.

Even before our first days as a country, colonial America recognized the high value of those who defended its citizens and property, providing for the health and future well-being of its wounded citizen soldiers and their families. In this new bright American experiment, a covenant between governments and those who fought and bled for the common good was clearly understood.

Steve House

Over time, America’s promise to care for her wounded heroic fighting men and women has often been muddled in political infighting, governmental cost-cutting and the whims of cultural indifference. Frankly, a grateful nation – led by both Democrat and Republican administrations – continues to bear the responsibility of repaying the overdue debt owed to America’s tested veterans.

As the United States nears the 20th anniversary of its invasion of Afghanistan and our longest war rages on, there are nearly 1.5 million active duty and reserve forces defending the interests of the U.S. around the world. Combined with our more than 18 million veterans, America has a responsibility to take care of these veterans as was originally intended and is the right thing to do.

While our veterans and their families are provided access to VA Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies — many still incur extremely high costs as part of their care. I believe our military heroes are owed better and addressing the cost, quality and access of their care is long past due.

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As the United States significantly overhauls our nation’s health care system, we must not forget our veterans; many of whom are on fixed budgets. I propose we begin by providing veterans with more freedom and choices by allowing all of their out of pocket health care expenses to be paid for with pretax dollars. This alone is a tremendous savings for most American families.

I propose allowing veterans to use a health care savings accounts (HSA) with more flexible rules that allow them to be funded by health insurance, a qualifying government option or through self-funding at levels high enough to cover their actual costs. Again, putting the freedom of choice back in the hands of patients and at a significantly reduced cost.

Our veterans should be given the opportunity to pay less because they have given so much to defend our freedom and opportunity of America.

We should also allow family members and friends to use their HSA accounts to pay costs for veterans if they choose to – serving those who served us. This proposal would decrease tax revenue into the U.S. Treasury but cost reductions in health care will offset the revenue reduction by ten-fold.

Our veterans can’t wait online for bureaucrats; they need innovative bold solutions that will fundamentally change the quality of their lives, the lives of their children and positively impact communities across America.

This kind of inventive disruption of norms requires government to partner with the private and nonprofit sector to provide veterans and their families the level of care they deserve.

We will never know all of their names, though many will be etched in stone memorializing their sacrifice to secure our freedom and liberty.

But for those brave soldiers who return home to us broken or wounded, we must not forget the promises made to them. America will leave no soldier behind; especially not at the time they leave the battlefield and enter a hospital or a doctor’s office.

To every veteran, their spouse, child and Gold Star family… Thank you for your service and sacrifice; our freedom has and always will depend on it.

A life-long advocate, successful entrepreneur, trained engineer and health care expert, Steve House is a candidate for U.S. Congress from Colorado’s 6th Congressional District