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In The News

Building Strong Readers in Delaware: Applying the Science of Reading

By: Dr. Tanya Hettler, PhD, Center for Education Policy

In 2022, Delaware passed HB 304, which has been called the Science of Reading Bill. This legislation mandates three annual screenings each year in kindergarten through third grade to look for students at risk for developing reading difficulties. It requires districts and charter schools to provide literacy interventions to students with a potential reading deficiency from a list maintained by the Delaware Department of Education. This is a commendable effort to address Delaware’s literacy crisis, but more must be done.
With only 41% of Delaware students reading proficiently, merely identifying students once they begin to struggle with reading is not sufficient. The majority of Delaware students are struggling to read. Therefore, we must use an evidence-based reading curriculum to teach early literacy to all students, and this instruction must be done proactively from day one in kindergarten. If we wait until reading problems are detected, it will be too late.
The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development’s research on reading has consistently shown that the “Science of Reading,” which includes phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, is essential for developing strong literacy skills. By teaching these principles to all students, we can prevent deficiencies rather than try to fix them after they develop. Once students learn the wrong way of “reading,” it is extremely difficult to correct it.
Over the past several decades, most students in teacher preparation programs were taught that students can read without explicit instruction. Strategies such as “whole language” or “balanced literacy” instruction were being taught. These methods, which encourage children to figure out how to read by looking at books and guessing what the words are rather than sounding them out, actually impede students’ ability to learn to read.
In fact, brain researchers have found that the neural pathways in the brain that allow students to read do not exist in the pre-literate brain and, thus, must be built through explicit instruction and much practice. Learning to read is an extremely complicated activity, and we have been doing teachers a disservice by not educating them on how to teach reading and doing students a disservice by not giving them systematic and explicit reading instruction.
Additionally, there is a short timeframe in which reading skills must be taught correctly to ensure students can read efficiently and with comprehension. Waiting to see if students will develop reading problems is not an effective way of providing early literacy instruction.
I applaud Delaware legislators and the Governor for passing a Science of Reading Bill. But I also urge the Delaware Department of Education, teacher colleges, districts, and schools to ensure that teachers learn how to teach reading based on the science of reading to all students in their classes from day one. Current teachers must be re-taught how to teach students based on empirical evidence that requires systematic and explicit reading instruction. By doing this, we can ensure that every student, regardless of their initial proficiency, receives the quality education they deserve.
This will have a profound impact on the percentage of Delaware students who can perform at grade level on tests of reading proficiency. Substantial evidence indicates that this is especially crucial for students who have not been exposed to many books at home and thus have yet to begin to make the connections between letters and sounds.
A thorough implementation of the science of reading for all students should be the goal of our state education system. Implementing these changes will not only improve literacy rates but will also equip our students with the skills necessary for future success. Teaching educators how to teach reading based on the science of reading will lead to Delaware students experiencing greater success in school, which will lay the foundation for higher learning and career success and lead to a more successful and productive populace.


Recent Changes in Delaware Employment Law

From: Delaware State Chamber Business May/June 2024 Issue


IN RECENT YEARS, the Delaware General Assembly has introduced and passed legislation aimed at strengthening employee rights. While these efforts are positive for employees, some aspects create unintended consequences for small and mid-sized businesses. Increased regulatory complexity could make day-to-day operations more burdensome, potentially discouraging new business formation and impacting the growth of existing companies. These changes might make hiring decisions more challenging for employers, impacting overall workforce levels in the State. Some specific examples include:

SB 145 (signed): This new law clarifies and establishes caps on damages allowed in claims of employment discrimination. The caps exceed what is allowed under federal law. The likely result is that claimants will elect state courts to pursue these claims.

SS1 for SB 102 (signed): Contrary to decades of precedent, and federal law, this new law mandates prevailing wage rates on public works construction projects be paid to workers who fabricate custom components, regardless of where such work is performed. However, how this will be enforced when the work is performed out-of-state, by workers who never set foot in Delaware?

SB 27 (signed): This new law increases the statute of limitations for wage and other employment claims from one year to two years, changing decades of precedent.

HB 205 w/ HA3 (signed): This new law creates a state-sponsored retirement plan for employees that is to be “facilitated” by employers.

SS2 for SB1 (signed): This law, signed in 2022, creates an entirely new paid family and medical leave program that applies to employers with ten or more employees. Many employers are still unaware of this new law and its requirements. In addition to new tax burdens, this law provides for stiff penalties for noncompliance.

SB 35 (signed): This new law creates the crime of “wage theft” and subjects all Delaware employers (including owners and officers, individually) to criminal liability for various “wage violations.” For instance, improperly classifying an employee as an independent contractor is a violation.

SB 233 (pending): This Bill would establish employment protections, including mandatory employment by successor employers, for workers in the service sector.

HB 17 (pending): This Bill would mandate an hour of earned sick or safety time for every thirty hours worked by an employee, potentially conflicting with SS2 for SB 1, above.

SB 229 (pending): This Bill would allow former employees access to their former employer’s personnel file (including medical records) and expands what must be in the file.

HB 258 (pending): Overturning decades of precedent, this Bill would require domestic workers (including babysitters, housekeepers, nannies, and others) to be paid at least minimum wage.

The new laws and pending bills listed above are a sample of the efforts to protect employees from their employers. Whether they are necessary is a different question. What is clear is that employers, regardless of industry or size, have increasing regulatory obligations. Stay tuned for how these play out once enforcement begins.

G. Kevin Fasic, Esq. is managing principal of Offit Kurman’s Wilmington office and Anthony N. Delcollo, Esq. is a principal of Offit Kurman’s labor and employment practice group.

Beware of Government’s Grab For Even More Control of Your Healthcare

By: Ben DuPont

History provides ample evidence that governments are not very proficient at managing processes and delivering services. This is not a criticism of hard-working people in government, but their efforts are often thwarted by an overwhelming tendency toward inefficiency.

A good illustration of the pitfalls of government overreach is legislation primed to be passed within the next couple days by the General Assembly. The bill’s rather innocuous title, “An Act to Amend Title 16 Of the Delaware Code Relating To Hospital Costs,” belies the extent of its sweeping power grab over how large portions of healthcare are delivered in the First State.

More bureaucracy and more cost to taxpayers. The bill establishes the new “Diamond State Hospital Cost Review Board.” It would seem that the last thing healthcare in the state and across the nation needs is yet more bureaucracy. Proponents can argue that the board is comprised of just eight members, but we know that bureaucracies always grow (the board grew just during the drafting process).  Hospitals will be required to provide reams of data to the board based solely on the whims of its members as there is no constraint on such requests apparent in the bill’s language. Who is going to review that mass of data? Certainly, it will require new analysts and data processors. The taxpayers will have to ante up for these new folks and hospitals will have to spend time and money preparing and supporting the information. Governments are good at creating and growing bureaucracies and mandates but not so good at evaluating and sunsetting them.

Shifting decisions to those the state deems as “experts.” As it stands now, all but one of the board’s members will be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.  They will wield incredible power over hospitals that will be required to submit their budgets to the board for its review and approval. The board may, in its sole discretion, deem it necessary to, “engage with the hospital in revising” its budget. Imagine being the hospital management discussing possible revisions offered by the very board that can approve – or not – your institution’s budget. Hospitals that fail to meet the budget as approved by the board face underdefined penalties under the bill.  Perhaps the most deleterious (but not really surprising) provision is that hospitals that actually outperform their budget may see the financial benefit of such confiscated, at the board’s discretion, to the state. Why would we want to take decisions about the optimal way to provide effective care in a hospital away from those who know the hospital, the patient population, the medical and other staff, and instead give those decisions to a board whose members simply cannot know such details.

Greater pressure to go along to get along. Think of the breeding ground for conflicts of interest, cronyism, and even corruption this presents. Large bureaucracies staffed by” experts” and their staff with overbearing power create huge incentives of questionable practices. How can the board’s members, if they are versed in healthcare, not have relationships and favorites across Delaware? It turns into making sure the hospital has the right friends in the General Assembly, the board or its staff, accomplished by political contributions and other means of ingratiating the hospital with the board.

Delaware should learn from the Farmers Bank debacle from half a century ago. Here was a bank 80% owned by the state, with one-third of its board members appointed by the General Assembly, a shocking lack of accountability, and the potential for conflict of interest (does any of this sound familiar?). Even the New York Times, no enemy of government meddling in the economy, reported on the resulting fiasco, with evidence of malfeasance, the not-surprising conflicts of interest, acts of cronyism, and the resulting bad loans. The Times noted how the state ended up paying dearly, $20 million a year, for this failed attempt at government meddling. It was the just one example of what one knowledgeable Delawarean refers to as the “soft corruption of political control”

But do we ever really learn? I’m reminded of something my father wrote over a decade ago, “Markets work . . . and decisions made for the many by an elite few do not.” I would rather have a committee of doctors overseeing the Delaware General Assembly expenditures than a committee of politicians overseeing our hospitals.

Government Running Business Is a Bad Idea

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

Delaware’s Government clearly does not run like a business. It never has. But some in our state’s government think they can run a business better than the business can.

HB 350, a bill pending in the Delaware General Assembly would give a review board, comprised of five members appointed by politicians, the authority for “review and approval of annual hospital budgets” according to the synopsis of the bill. In the interim, before the review board is appointed and ready to undertake responsibilities, the bill limits what the hospital can charge for services.

There are a number of problems with the concept. First, the sponsors assume that the cost of health care is governed by hospital costs. There are many factors other than the cost of hospital services that affect the cost of health care, including the costs of prescription drugs, shortages of doctors and nurses and lack of competition.

The sponsors also ignore several less intrusive ways to manage the issue and to better address their concerns.

This bill is not about the quality-of-care patients are receiving and does not expand access to that care. It is prompted by the high cost of health care for state employees and retirees. There has not been an increase in premiums for state health care recipients in about seven years. Regularly adjusting the premiums to costs makes sense in every other employer’s office. Our government should try it.

Studies have consistently shown that eliminating the Certificate of Need Laws would lower costs and improve access. Delaware is one of only a few states that still retain this harmful law. We should repeal it.

Delaware hospitals should comply with federal requirements and adopt practices that make the cost of procedures more transparent so patients can make informed decisions regarding where to seek treatment. Resistance to competition could result in a state takeover of health care, as this bill demonstrates.

Our hospitals are non-profit entities and are required to file reports with the state each year identifying what money they raise, how they spend it, how much of it they retain and for what purpose. Government officials can easily review those to be sure the hospital is performing the public services it promises. If they are showing a profit, or do not have designated, service-related purposes for reserves, then action can be taken.

But the way this bill would work is to substitute the judgment of political appointees over that of the experts and administrators of these facilities. Indeed, the primary sponsor of this bill said that she believes “hospitals should invest in doctors, nurses, medical equipment and the health of our citizens.” If they don’t do so in a way that meets her, and others’ approval, the politicians will decide how the money is spent. And there is no contention that will improve quality of care or access to care. Indeed, several professionals testified in the legislative hearings expressed concern that the bill would “create an environment where programs serving people with special needs, such as those with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy, would be sacrificed due to cost.”

This is socialized medicine by any other name. But this is not the first time that the government has intruded into the business of business. The federal government decided you should not be able to buy incandescent lightbulbs anymore, and they are gone. More recently, Delaware’s government has told car dealers what kinds of cars they must sell. There is no justification in the financial return or consumer demand for these state-imposed requirements. Not surprisingly, it is not going well. Manufacturers are cutting back on the number of electric vehicles they are making because the demand is simply not there.

These decisions made by our government to intrude into the corporate board room are not based on public safety concerns or citizen welfare. They are based on preferences or the costs for government. This is a dangerous precedent. We have a robust corporate community in Delaware because we have carefully crafted our laws and practices to make it desirable to incorporate here.

The State is intruding into the hospitals’ business because the State thinks it has to pay too much. What is to prevent the government from deciding to tell contractors (construction, IT, etc.) what they can charge and review their budgets to be sure the state is getting a good price, and the owners aren’t keeping too much of the profits for themselves?

There is a legal concept called the “business judgement rule.”  In essence, it allows a business to act in its best judgment. Those making the decisions are, generally, well trained and experienced in the business practices and nuances of their industry. Government has never had to meet a bottom line. It can simply raise taxes or spend in deficit. Businesses should not be run by individuals who are uninformed and lack the expertise to exercise good judgment in the business world. We are jeopardizing our standing as a place to do business if we enact this bill.

And, while we are discussing budget scrutiny, perhaps we should put together a committee to review the Governor’s budget and examine how the state of Delaware spent nearly $4 billion in surplus dollars (surplus means more than we needed to meet our budget) over the last three years. I expect there would be resistance.

HB 350 is a bad idea for all Delawareans. It puts our government in charge of private matters, creates a precedent that jeopardizes our economy, and continues a bad trend to inject priorities other than the success of a business into decision making.

Jane Bady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.






Former State Representative Joins A Better Delaware Board


WILMINGTON, Del. – Former State Representative Ruth Briggs King has joined as an Advisory Board member of A Better Delaware, a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and greater transparency in state government.

Jane Brady, Chair of A Better Delaware announced the addition of Briggs King to the board this past Thursday. “Ruth will be an excellent addition to our Board. Her background in medicine, education, and business will be directly relevant to ABD’s work in advocating for school choice, lowering individual and corporate taxes, and removal of Certificate of Need laws,” said Brady.

Representative King has precisely the expertise and experience I had hoped to bring to A Better Delaware when I founded it.  Her experienced hand in affordable housing, mental health and substance abuse plaguing Delaware will provide a critical voice for ABD in advocacy for practical solutions, “said Chris Kenny, Founder.

“I am so pleased to have been invited to join the Advisory Board of A Better Delaware,” said King. “Its work is legendary in Delaware, and I believe I can continue to make a real difference for our state in this role.”

King had honorably served the 37th Representative District and the state of Delaware since 2009. Her accomplishments include Delaware Teacher of the Year Nominee, inductee to the DelTech Walk of Success, and Sussex Central High School’s Hall of Fame. Currently, Briggs King serves on the University of Delaware’s Southern Delaware Advisory Board, as well as Delaware State’s Southern Delaware Advisory Board.

Ruth lives in Georgetown, Delaware with her husband, Stanley King. They have two adult sons and six grandchildren.

John Marinucci to join Advisory Board



July 31, 2023

WILMINGTON, Del. – A Better Delaware (ABD) announced today that Dr. John Marinucci, former executive director of the Delaware School Board Association (DSBA) will join the advisory board.

John worked for the State of Delaware in the field of auditing, accounting and finance.  John later became the Chief of Administration for the Division of Highway Operations. John transitioned to the K-12 education field in the year 2000, as the Director of Operations for the Milford School District. John would later assume the responsibility for state-wide educational facilities planning and construction at the Department of Education (DOE) in 2006.  John served as the Director of Finance for the DOE on an interim basis for approximately 18 months.

In 2011, John left to serve as the Director of Administrative Services for the Woodbridge School District, with his primary role being to direct and manage the construction of Woodbridge’s new $53 million high school, which was completed on time and on budget.  John assumed the duties of Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Association in February 2016 after retirement from 31 years of State of Delaware service in July 2015.  John retired from the Delaware School Boards Association (DSBA) in July 2023 after having rebuilt the organization’s finances and reputation.  The DSBA once again enjoys a reputation as one of the premier education advocacy organizations in Delaware.

“We are pleased to have someone with an extensive background in education and finance,” said Chris Kenny, co-chair and founder of ABD. “How our schools are funded are incredibly important, and not enough people are focusing on that aspect of education.” Jane Brady, co-chair of ABD followed, “Marinucci will be a great asset to ABD, and his insights in education will be incredibly helpful in our advocacy efforts.”

John graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Delaware State University. He received an MBA from Wilmington University, before then received his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Innovation from Wilmington University. John, his wife Michele, along with their horses, golden retrievers, chickens and barn cats all live in Harrington on their 18-acre horse farm which they’ve named Acacia Branch.  John enjoys tinkering with his 1931 Model A Ford as well as his collection of antique bicycles.  John is also a published author who enjoys creative writing.


Sherri Tull-Hubbard Joins A Better Delaware’s Advisory Board


Sherri Tull-Hubbard has joined the Advisory Board of A Better Delaware, a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization which supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies, and greater transparency and accountability in Delaware’s state government.

Tull-Hubbard is a child therapist, adjunct professor, and retired Captain with the Wilmington Police Department.

Having served on the police force since 1990, she was the first African American woman in the Wilmington Police Department’s 126-year history to be promoted to the rank of Captain.

Tull-Hubbard earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Bowie State College. During her 28-year career with the Wilmington Police Department, she earned a master’s degree in education and a master’s degree in community counseling from Wilmington University.

She also served as Commander of the Office of Professional Standards, commonly referred to as Internal Affairs.

Chris Kenny, Chairman and Founder of A Better Delaware, announced adding Tull-Hubbard to the Advisory Board last week.

“Sherri Tull-Hubbard has one of the most unique résumés I have seen,” Kenny said. “From her extensive career in law enforcement to her current work treating and supporting children’s mental health, she has dedicated her life to serving the people of Delaware. A Better Delaware is so fortunate to benefit from her extensive knowledge of the issues facing our communities, especially as it relates to the role law and order plays in fostering an environment for businesses to thrive.”

Tull-Hubbard will serve on the Advisory Board alongside former Governor and Congressman Mike Castle, business and civic leader Sam Waltz, and certified elder law attorney William “Bill” Erhart.

“By joining the Advisory Board of A Better Delaware, I hope to continue serving our community by advocating for solutions to the issues facing Delawareans, specifically in mental healthcare,” Tull-Hubbard said. “Having spent the majority of my career in law enforcement, I also know that communities and businesses across our state are facing a substantial increase in retail theft and other crimes that jeopardize the health of our economy.”

“Supporting small businesses means taking steps to deter crime effectively,” Tull-Hubbard continued. “When small businesses are victimized, they oftenreduce hours, increase prices, relocate, and even close shop. A two-fold approach is necessary to address this problem. We must enforce our laws and give business owners an environment to thrive while also working to address the root causes of crime and deficiencies in the mental healthcare system.”

Ethan Lang, executive director of A Better Delaware, said Tull-Hubbard will be invaluable in advancing the organization’s mission.

“In Sherri Tull-Hubbard, A Better Delaware has found a compassionate, dedicated champion for law and order, not to mention the important task of improving children’s health,” Lang said. “She is a beacon of thoughtfulness, service, and principle and will guide our organization as we advocate for policies that promote safety, opportunity, and justice.”


WILMINGTON, Del. A Better Delaware announced on May 3 that Jane Brady has joined the organization. Brady will serve as Co-chair with founder Chris Kenny. Brady previously served Delaware for three terms as Attorney General and served one term as a Delaware Superior Court Judge.

“We are very pleased to have someone with Jane’s background and experience be a part of A Better Delaware. Her grasp of the issues affecting Delaware today is keen and will be a great asset to our advocacy for improving Delaware for the families and businesses here”, said Chris Kenny. Sam Waltz, who currently serves as Vice Chair of A Better Delaware, said, “I have known Jane quite a while and am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her here at A Better Delaware.”

“I am quite familiar with and have admired the significant work that A Better Delaware has done in a very short time. I look forward to working with representatives of Delaware’s business and civic communities to make Delaware a better place to live and do business”, said Brady.

Brady graduated from the University of Delaware and Villanova University School of Law. She recently received her MBA from the University of Delaware Lerner School. She lives in Lewes with her husband, Michael Neal, and their son, Trent.



 Ethan A. Lang

April 15, 2023


WILMINGTON, Del. – Chris Kenny, the founder of A Better Delaware (ABD), has selected Ethan Lang as its new Executive Director, leading its efforts as a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and greater transparency and accountability in state government. 


In April, Lang will succeed Kathleen Rutherford, who has accepted a position as an advocacy consultant for the D.C.-based Taxpayer Protection Alliance. “Kathleen was invaluable to ABD. Her contributions made us a force in Delaware,” Kenny said. Rutherford led the organization through the last two years, advocating more rapidly opening the state during the lockdown. Under her watch, ABD expanded its advisory board with highly credentialled experts and had more than a 90% publishing rate for their blogs. ABD is now looking to advocate for better government transparency and accountability, hoping to establish an Office of Inspector General and an Office of Legislative Ethics.


Lang has been involved in politics for five years, getting involved with his local representative’s campaign as a volunteer coordinator at age sixteen. He went on to Dartmouth College, one of the eight Ivy League schools, and will graduate with degrees in government and public policy. He is also a Politics and Law Fellow and a senior editor for the Dartmouth Law Journal. “I am excited to see what Lang does with ABD. He brings a combination of pedigree and energy to the organization that I believe can take us far and continue the good work of our previous directors.” Vice Chair of ABD, Sam Waltz, concurred with Kenny, adding, “I am pleased with the choice. I believe that the advisory board and Lang have a formidable skill set, and I eagerly await his plans for the future of ABD.”


“A Better Delaware is laying the groundwork for change in our state,” said Lang. “I hope to build upon the strong foundation of my predecessors and bring my perspective to the organization. To me, this is personal. I am young and want to see a Delaware in which I can continue to be proud of and, hopefully, raise my family in. I hope to expand upon our extensive social media reach across all our platforms and continue our grassroots efforts in promoting policies that will benefit our economy. Our mission is essential; Delaware needs a government that is transparent and accountable to the people.”


ABOUT A BETTER DELAWARE A Better Delaware is a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies, and greater transparency and accountability in state government. A Better Delaware can be found on Facebook @abetterdelaware and at www.ABetterDelaware.org.


Contact: Ethan A. Lang



Developing Delaware’s Workforce through retired Military

Recently, Democratic Gov. John Carney stressed the need to expand Delaware’s economy by building a stronger workforce for the future.  He stressed that this may be the state’s biggest single challenge. His remarks ring a little hollow when the state fails to utilize one of our largely untapped resources – our Delaware veterans.

Today, there are over 70,000 veterans in Delaware. Many are retired after 20 years of service from our respective armed forces with 20 years or more of civilian work life remaining before full retirement. Many retirees receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of high-level education in a variety of fields of endeavor. A majority of veterans say their military service is an important asset for their transition to civilian life and useful in giving them the skills they need for a job outside the military.  A recent PEW research survey points out that over 58% of veterans seeking employment found their military experience was useful or fairly useful in their new civilian jobs.  Military leadership training is invaluable, especially in leadership. Our state recognizes this invaluable commodity and has mentioned this a source for recruitment, but has not placed the necessary emphasis for permanent recruiting. Governor Carey did not highlight this resource in his recent State of the State address. He did address the shortage of teachers and pay issues but did not suggest that efforts should be pursued to encourage retired or separated military personnel to help fill the gaps.  In Delaware, we have the largest air mobility base in the United States with approximately 11,000 airmen and joint force personnel, civilians and families.  Delaware service men and women responsible for global airlift aboard C-5M Super Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster aircraft in support of our armed forces. The United States Air Force cannot conduct these operations without personnel trained in electronics, communications, aerospace and maintenance with sophisticated equipment. Every year many air force personnel retire and look for employment.  Many serve in our state in civilian capacities, yet we do not actively recruit retirees as a labor policy.  We also have active national guard and military service reserve units in the state where they receive military training in their respective military fields of specialties.  This training can easily translate to civilian life and jobs. Delaware should make it a priority to actively recruit at active military locations to fill the gaps for jobs.

The United States Department of Defense manages the Skill Bridge Program as an opportunity for active-duty service members to gain valuable civilian work skills and experience during their last 180 days of service.  Opportunities exist for this program to prepare separating service members to build resources, make important contacts, and explore employment while still active in preparation for the civilian workforce.  The State and civilian employers should take advantage of this preparatory program to help fill unemployment gaps.

It is important for the state to establish and maintain close partnership with the Veterans Administration (VA) in this arena. No mention of this important contact was emphasized in the Governor’s comments.

As a final note, the VA offers the Veterans Employment Service Office for career preparation and transition services to implement the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act. A close partnership with the VA and the State of Delaware would increase employment opportunities for our ever-increasing veteran population.