11.10.15

Daines Statement in Honor of Veterans Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today released the following statement to honor America’s heroes ahead of Veterans Day:

“On Veterans Day, we gather across Montana and all around America to show our respect and gratitude for those who have served our country. Veterans Day is a special day for our nation. It is a day in which we pause and thank those who have served and continue to serve. 

“For decades, our enemies have tested our strength, yet we continue to demonstrate our resolve. America and the world are better places because of the courage our veterans and service members have shown. They answered the call to serve and because of them, the world knows America will fight against evil and oppression and for the advancement of freedom from sea to shining sea.

“Today, as we enjoy time with our family and friends, let us not forget those who remain in harm’s way. They are our moms and dads, sisters and brothers and our dear friends. Today we remember and honor the courage and sacrifice of these brave men and women. We recognize their bravery, their honor and their commitment. To all of Montana’s veterans – thank you for your service.”

Daines will commemorate Veterans Day in Manhattan, Montana at the Legion Post #87 ceremony.

In the Senate, Daines has fought tirelessly for America’s veterans and those on active duty. Issues Daines has worked to address for Montana’s veterans and service members include:

Montana Priorities in Veterans Affairs Appropriations:

  • Ensures that veterans with service animals can bring those animals into Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities.
  • Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take into account the situations of large rural states when determining where to build new veterans’ homes.
  • Ensures Montana’s veterans without next-of-kin aren’t denied a VA-issued headstone.
  • Protects veterans’ ability to discuss with VA physicians the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal. 

National Defense Authorization Act:

  • $19.7 million for the Tactical Response Force Alert Facility at Malmstrom.
  • $4.26 million for an energy conservation project at Malmstrom.
  • Authorizes funding for AMP Increments I and II to ensure that our C-130s are able to stay in the air.
  • Authorizes funding for C-130 engine modifications.
  •  It expresses the sense of the Congress that the nuclear triad plays a critical role in ensuring national security and that it is the policy of the U.S. to operate, sustain, and modernize or replace the triad and to operate and modernize or replace a capability to forward-deploy nuclear weapons and dual-cable fighter-bomber aircraft.

VA Change in Service Dog Policy:

  • Veterans in some states, including Montana, have had difficulty bringing their animals into VA medical facilities.
  • Daines has long pushed for the VA to update its service dog policies and acknowledge their value for veterans. 
  • Daines commended news that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has revised its rules regarding veterans’ ability to bring service animals to VA facilities.
  • The VA’s new rule will put clear guidance in place that allows the presence of service animals at VA facilities across the United States. 

VA Office of the Inspector General September Report:

  • Daines expressed his deep concerns regarding this VA Inspector General report, noting that it "paints a disturbing pattern of incompetence at the Department of the Veterans Affairs."
  • The report was intended to respond to specific allegations about care at the VA, but found that record keeping was so terrible that it couldn’t accurately assess many of those allegations.
  • Daines believes it is unconscionable that America’s veterans have not been able to effectively access the health care services that was promised to them.

The Securing Military Personnel Response Firearm Initiative (SEMPER FI) Act:

  • In light of the tragic events in Chattanooga, TN, Daines joined Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to introduce the Securing Military Personnel Response Firearm Initiative (SEMPER FI) Act, S. 1819.
  • This bill would allow the military to authorize recruiters to be armed with a service-issue sidearm when they’re at recruitment centers. The bill also limits the carrying of a sidearm to officers and non-commissioned officers.
  • Daines' provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows military officers the ability to carry weapons at military recruitment centers.

Bipartisan Bill to Correct Erroneous Discharges:

  • Daines joined Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to introduce bipartisan legislation that will ensure due process for veterans who suffer from mental health illnesses who may have been erroneously given an administrative discharge, rather than an honorable discharge.
  • The bill creates a presumption in favor of the veteran when petitioning the Secretary of Defense for an upgrade in discharge status based on medical evidence certified by the VA.
  • Individuals who are given an administrative discharge make them ineligible for certain benefits, including G.I. benefits and VA home loans.

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act:

  • Daines has been working with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to pass legislation that will force the VA to recognize the Agent-Orange-related conditions of ‘blue water’ Vietnam veterans. 
  • It would clarify existing law so that ‘blue water' veterans would be fully covered by the VA if they served within the “territorial seas,” or approximately 12 miles offshore of Vietnam.
  • The bill would make it easier for VA to process Vietnam War veterans’ claims for service-connected conditions and alleviate a portion of the VA’s backlog by extending presumptive coverage of Agent Orange benefits to these veterans.
  • Daines recently testified at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the importance of passing this legislation. 

Veterans History Project:

  • Daines is working to expand the American Folklife Center’s Veterans History Project (VHP) to Montana to collect and preserve the stories of Montana’s wartime veterans in the Library of Congress.   
  • The recordings and documents that are collected ensure that Montana veterans’ stories are preserved for future generations.
  • Daines kicked off the Veterans History Project in Helena on October 10, 2015

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