As my final term as your congressman comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to express my thanks for your support over the years.
People often ask what I’m the most proud of in the past 16 years as your representative. It’s not flying on Air Force One or meeting in the White House. It’s not even passing legislation on the House Floor.
With your support, I have recovered almost $9 million in retroactive benefits for New York veterans and their loved ones.
You have also enabled me to travel to combat zones abroad to visit the brave men and women who defend our freedoms.
Throughout my career, I’ve traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan more than 10 times, because I have always strongly believed that if you’re going to vote to send troops into harm’s way, then you’d better be willing to go into harm’s way to go check on them.
We must always support and fight for our heroes, and I am thankful to you for sending me to Washington over the past 16 years to join that fight. I will proudly continue to be a part of it as a private citizen.
This month, I held my final veterans event, where I not only joined veterans to celebrate their service, but I also honored and presented medals to Afghanistan Veteran Sergeant John Byrne and the families of deceased WWII Veterans First Lieutenant Harold Cederbaum and Private First Class Harry Schwartz, heroes who bravely served and sacrificed and to whom we owe our lives and freedoms.
There is nothing more meaningful than walking into a veterans post and handing a check to a veteran who has been mistreated by the system and having him or her say that their faith in government has been restored.
Helping veterans secure the benefits to which they are entitled has been the most deeply satisfying work of my career in Washington and I will always cherish the ability to have done it.
So not on behalf of myself or the congress, but on behalf of our veterans and the brave men and women defending us abroad, I humbly thank you for allowing me the ultimate privilege of serving you and those who have served us.
Israel, U.S. Representative for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, will leave office at the end of the year.