07.30.18

Daines, Duckworth Push for Extension to Build Vietnam Veteran Education Center

Bipartisan bill will extend date until 2022

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) today introduced a bill that extends the time to raise the necessary funds for completion of the Vietnam Veteran Education Center.

“Montana is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of veterans per capita,” said Daines. “Finishing the education center will help teach visitors from around the world about the sacrifices Montana’s and the nation’s Vietnam Veterans made for our freedom.”

 “It’s important for our nation to support the brave Americans who served in Vietnam,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to be introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Daines to help the Memorial continue raising the funds needed for the Vietnam Veterans Education Center.”

Statements of Support:

Jim Knotts, President & CEO, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund: "Since 2012, we’ve made steady progress with the campaign to build the Education Center at The Wall.  We’ve collected nearly 56,000 photos for the Wall of Faces exhibit, curated thousands of items left at The Wall and completed a twelve-year design approval process.  Legislative changes to the authorizing law has enabled us to raise a third of the funding to begin construction. Through this bill, Senator Daines ensures we can continue these efforts to remember the service of our veterans and educate generations of their sacrifice through the Education Center at The Wall.  Our Board of Directors appreciates his continuing support for the Education Center project. The time is now to build the Education Center so we can share the stories of our Vietnam era heroes with current and future generations."

Len Albright, Vice President, Veterans Alliance of Southwest Montana: “I am very pleased and gratified that you are willing to support the Vietnam Vets Memorial.  The Bill you are proposing would be meaningful and of great importance for us Veterans and their families and friends.  What an exceptional project this would be in helping add some additional closure for the fallen heroes from Vietnam.  Projects like this are so important to us that survived as it shows we are not forgotten.  Thank you for all of your assistance and support.  God Bless our Troops, our Veterans and God Bless America!”

Chuck Renevier, Combat Veteran of the Vietnam War & Member of the Southwest Montana Veterans Alliance: “On behalf of all Vietnam veterans I strongly urge that this bill be passed extending the ability to continue to raise the necessary funding to make this project a reality. It has been a long time coming for a visitor center to be constructed  to give a history of a war that took place over a half of a century ago. Our spouses, our children, our grand children and future generations need to be told the story of a piece of U.S. history that is either ignored or glossed over in the many history books of the United States. I am proud to have served my country and have fought in Vietnam and be able to call myself a Vietnam veteran.”

 For bill text click here.

Background:

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial fund is designed to collect donations to build a visitor and education center for the Vietnam Memorial. Over the last 15 years, donations have been  accumulating, however, the visitor center needs more time to reach the needed $130 million.

This bill falls under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Parks, which Daines chairs.

In April 2018, Daines was recognized as a leading bipartisan Senator by the Lugar Center and the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy. Daines ranked 13th for bipartisanship among his Senate colleagues.

Daines on Veterans:

In January 2018, Daines met with Health Net Federal Services (HNFS) President and CEO, Billy Maynard, to address concerns regarding changes to the TRICARE network in Montana, and providers who no longer accept TRICARE due to poor experiences with HFNS in the Veterans Choice Program. 

On December 25, 2017, Daines led a letter to President and CEO of Health Net Federal Services, the current administrator for the Veterans Choice Program in Montana.

On November 10, 2017, Daines sponsored the Veteran State Home Grant Backlog Reduction Act to resolve a six-year delay in providing veterans’ care in Butte.

In August 2017, Daines cohosted VA Secretary David Shulkin at the VAMC Fort Harrison to discuss critical provider shortages and obstacles to providing timely access to quality care to all eligible veterans in Montana. 

On May 3, 2017, Daines sponsored the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.

On March 14, 2017, Daines sponsored the Veterans Choice Improvement Act to revamp the VA Choice Program and make reforms ensuring that non-VA health providers receive timely payments.

On January 31, 2017, Daines met with VA Secretary David Shulkin to discuss problems with VA Choice, including flawed implementation, late payments, scheduling errors and inaccessibility of providers.

On February 17, 2017, Daines and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, legislation to ensure that thousands of Navy veterans, known as “Blue Water” veterans, are able to receive the disability and health care benefits they earned after exposure to Agent Orange while fighting in the Vietnam War.

On January 25, 2017, Daines highlighted the importance of improving the Veterans Choice Program for Montana’s veterans in a letter to President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin.

In January 2017, Daines met with the President and CEO of Health Net Federal Services, Billy Maynard, to discuss payment delays to Choice providers and VA reimbursement delays.

On January 9, 2017, in a letter to Billy Maynard, President and CEO of Health Net, Daines expressed concerns that he has heard from Montana veterans of their lack of confidence in Health Net's ability to fulfill their obligations.

On December 12, 2016, Daines met with Dr. Kathy Berger, the director of the Montana VA Healthcare System, to discuss prioritizing Montana veterans and ensuring they receive the care they deserve.

On May 11, 2016, Daines sponsored the Veterans First Act, comprehensive legislation to improve veterans’ access to health care, more quickly fire poor-performing VA staff, and improve the disability compensation process.

On March 7, 2016, Daines sponsored the Veterans Choice Improvement Act.

On January 21, 2015, Daines sponsored the Veterans Access to Community Care Act, to increase flexibility in interpreting the Choice Act’s 40-mile rule so veterans do not have to travel as far to receive the care they need.

On June 9, 2014, Daines sponsored the Veterans Access to Care Act.

  

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