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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Week of May 23rd in Review

May 27, 2011

Dear Friend,

On this Memorial Day, we give thanks and offer praise to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who have worn the uniform and taken an oath to defend our nation. We pause to remember the 624 service members from California who have made the ultimate sacrifice and died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Democrats have always stood with our veterans. We enacted a new GI Bill restoring the promise of a full, four-year college education for our returning heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan. We strengthened health care for more than 5 million veterans and have expanded efforts to treat brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorders that have affected so many of our troops. We improved our support for military families by building better military family housing and child care centers.

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass with members of the Armed Forces

Last week, I visited Iraq. Though I am well informed on the ongoing events transpiring within Iraq and the region, there is nothing that can quite prepare you for visiting a war zone. There really isn’t an answer to the question, “Did you enjoy your trip?” because visiting a country tormented by brutality and bloodshed is not something meant to be enjoyed. From Baghdad to Kirkuk in the north, I could see the scars of conflict, but also the seeds of opportunity.

There are strong flickers of hope where there was once a bleak forecast. Our troops are working to transition security responsibility to the Iraqis. The process is being carried out as we speak. The commander of the transition is General Lloyd J. Austin III, the highest ranking African American officer in the Armed Forces is a leader of uncommon strength with the clarity of vision to undertake this massive operation. It is because of leaders like General Austin, as well as the men and women under his command, that our nation’s Armed Forces remain the envy of the world.

On this Memorial Day, let us wish for a speedy and safe return home of our troops who are in harm’s way and look forward to a day absent of war and conflict.

Introduction of the Foster Care Mentoring Act

Every day, nearly a half-million children and youth depend on foster care in America – through no fault of their own. President Obama has dedicated May as National Foster Care month and during this month we celebrate foster families who provide the loving and nurturing care for children in need.

For kids in foster care, the state is their only parent and we need to be better parents. It is our responsibility to make sure that our children have every opportunity to become productive citizens. But unfortunately, a disproportionate number of foster care youth end up homeless and in the juvenile-justice system.

Video of Press Conference

I want this Foster Care Month to be more than just awareness. I want it to be about action. While Speaker in California, I championed a bill that extended the foster care emancipation age to 21 – helping youth continue to be supported during crucial years of development.

Now in the U.S. House of Representatives, I've introduced two bills honoring and assisting foster youth. First a Congressional Resolution recognizing May as National Foster Care Month, honoring foster youth and parents. Second, H.R. 2012 Foster Care Mentoring Act focused on connecting foster care youth with responsible, caring adults.

I hope that you too will take this month to support young people in foster care, and to recognize the committed adults who work on their behalf each day, so that every other month of the year kids and youth in foster care have more stability and more opportunity.

We need to make it easier for foster youth to get an education, a job, and become self sufficient and not have homelessness or incarceration be the default. No matter how much time you have to give, you can do something positive that will change a lifetime for a young person in foster care.


Karen Bass