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Veterans honored, hopeful for future after VA restructuring announcement

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INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 11, 2014) - Hundreds of people gathered Downtown to honor our veterans at Tuesday’s annual memorial service and Veterans Day parade.

Still, for many veterans it hasn’t been an easy year, with the VA scandal in the headlines and the treatment of our veterans in question.

“They’ve got a ways to go,” said Navy veteran Keith Karnes, who attended Tuesday’s parade. “It’s nice to see that they’re at least making the effort. That makes me happy.”

Congressman Andre Carson, D-Indiana, touched on the situation in his Veterans Day remarks.

“Push to make the system accountable and make sure it improves for all vets,” Carson said. “Fight each and every day as we ensure to keep our promises to veterans that no matter where they fought or when they fought, we have your backs.”

FOX59 also talked with Senator Dan Coats, R-Indiana, about the changes being announced this week at the VA, which include a complete restructuring involving the firing or disciplining of more than 1,000 VA employees due to the scandal over excessive wait times and poor care blamed for many patient deaths.

“We’re trying to bring a total culture change and management change into the VA and I’m satisfied that we now are on the right track,” said Coats. “We owe these veterans not just to honor them on day like this but to support them.”

“The problems have been more at a higher level,” said Karnes. “I think people in the individual levels, you can tell they care about the people that they’re serving.”

At Tuesday’s memorial service, they rang a bell from the USS Indianapolis, before the playing of Taps to remember our fallen veterans.

“We have sons and daughters all over the world who are resting, who didn't make it home, but who are in our hearts every day,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana.

“With nearly half a million men and women who have worn the uniform, every day is Veterans Day in Indiana and we thank you for your service,” said Gov. Mike Pence, R-Indiana.

Thanks also went out to Adjutant General R. Martin Umbarger, who recently announced he would be retiring from the Indiana National Guard.

“It is the few of the youth serving today for the benefit of the many of our nation,” said Umbarger. “And I had that privilege to serve with these wonderful (people).”