Veterans share perspective on a special day

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Veterans Day was recognized across Hampton Roads, and the world, Tuesday, just after the new secretary of Veterans Affairs announced sweeping changes to the department this week. With that announcement, there’s an even greater call for better care for those who’ve sacrificed so much.

A little rain wasn’t enough to keep veterans from marching down streets or lining sidewalks. Even Senator Tim Kaine and U.S. Representative Scott Rigell joined Tuesday’s parade along Atlantic Ave. to the the Tidewater Veterans Memorial.

As Kaine marched alongside post 9-11 Veterans from the American Legion second district, he told a major issue for service members that he’ll be fighting in the upcoming session is preventing another round of sequestration. The sweeping budget cuts, he said, could happen again in the 2016 fiscal year, if action isn’t taken.

Kaine said he’s also been working hard on behalf of Veterans, so they receive better care.

“We owe these vets top quality care, with waiting times that are not extreme, and we’re going to stay on the administration to make sure they keep on improving,” Kaine said.

The new VA secretary just announced a massive restructuring of the department, in the wake of the scandal that left more than 100,000 veterans waiting for health care. But on Veteran’s Day, you’ll find that everyone has a slightly different take on the day.

“My oldest son is carrying the American flag for First Colonial High School U.S. NAVY JROTC ,” Webster Balding said.

Balding is retired from 26 years in the Coast Guard. His grandfather and great uncles served in WWII, his Father in the Korean War, he has one brother who’s retired from the Marines and others who are active-duty NAVY, National Guard and Coast Guard. He’s just passing the patriotism on.

“It shows their love, because we all love each other, who fought for our country. They fought for us and our protection,” said Kobe Balding, as his daughter cheered her brother on as he marched the streets.

Men and women of all different races who’ve fought for our freedom, whatever the cost, came to Virginia Beach for the parade.

“There’s a lot who served, like myself, people who are here today,” said Larry Sticklen. “And there’s a lot that give just a little bit more. That’s the hard part. My son, he was a Marine killed in Iraq about eight years ago. He deserved to be here. He should be here.”

Sticklen served in the Navy for 21 years. He, too, watched his son march in his footsteps. But he carried a flag in memory of his final mission overseas.

Tuesday was not only a time to celebrate the veterans who still walk tall. It was also a time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice others have paid, bravely serving their country, selflessly answering a call. We thank you all and your families, who have been by your side.

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