Senate passes bill to rename Bozeman VA clinic for Travis Atkins

The U.S. Senate passed a bill this week to rename Bozeman’s Department of Veterans Affairs clinic after local Medal of Honor recipient Travis Atkins.

The House must also approve the bill before the facility at 300 N. Willson Ave., becomes the Travis W. Atkins Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic. The clinic is one of 14 in the state that provides outpatient services to veterans.

“I’m hopeful this bill will be quickly signed into law, so that folks in Bozeman and across this grateful nation may properly honor Sgt. Atkins’ courage — and legacy — for generations to come,” said Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee. 

Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican, said, “I’m happy to see my colleagues in the U.S. Senate support this important bill recognizing Atkins’ bravery by renaming the VA clinic in his hometown of Bozeman in his honor.”

Daines and Tester introduced the legislation in the Senate, and Rep. Greg Gianforte introduced the same bill in the House in March.

Gianforte, a Republican, will continue to work to secure passage of the bill in the House. The bill would then go to President Donald Trump for a signature.

“Renaming the VA clinic in Bozeman after (Atkins) will serve as a lasting tribute to Travis’ legacy of valor,” Gianforte said. “I’m committed to getting this bipartisan, commonsense bill across the finish line in the House.”

Daines, Tester and Gianforte introduced the bills around the same time as Trump posthumously awarded Atkins, 31, a Medal of Honor, the country’s highest award for battlefield valor.

Atkins was born in Great Falls, spent the first years of his life in Helena and then attended Bozeman High School. His parents still live in Gallatin County.

Atkins, an Army staff sergeant, enlisted in 2000 and served in Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged in 2003 and reenlisted two years later. While serving in Iraq in 2007, he shielded his fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber, saving three lives but losing his own

In his lifetime, he received several honors, including the Purple Heart and Army Achievement Medal.

A year after his death, he received the Distinguished Service Cross. After a Department of Defense review, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.