Montana has a strong military tradition unparalleled by almost any other state in the nation. More than 1-in-10 of us hears the call to serve in the armed forces, and in the sovereign Tribal nations the warrior spirit is even stronger. Ryan Zinke served 23 years in the U.S. Navy SEALs and every day saw the patriotism, service and sacrifice of our troops. The United States must honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served our great nation.
Montana is unique. For many Montana veterans, a trip to the VA can be an all-day affair and many medical specialties such as mental health are not easily available causing veterans’ needs are going unmet. To solve this, Congress must create flexibilities that allow veterans to seek care outside the VA system and expand telehealth services.
To meet the full promise we made to our veterans, Congress must also:
- Reduce the number of service members and veterans who die by suicide
- Improve programs and services for women, Native American and minority veterans
- Expand telehealth services
- Timely and improved transition assistance, including access to programs after they leave military service
- High-quality and sustainable education benefits
- Strong employment and training programs
- Small business development opportunities
- Civilian credentials or academic credit for military training
- Incentivize employers to hire veterans
As Montana’s Congressman, Ryan was a leading voice for veterans. He was an early co-sponsor of the PAWS Act which trained and funded service dogs for veterans living with PTSD, and the Providing Veterans with Overdue Care Act which authorized a major VA outpatient facility in Missoula. His legislative record also includes:
- Introduced the Global War on Terror Memorial Act
- Introduced the Justice for Victims of Military Sexual Assault Act
- Co-sponsored the Faster Care for Veterans Act, VA Accountability Act, and many others.
As Congressman, retired Commander Zinke also hosted ceremonies across the state to honor thousands of Montana Vietnam War Veterans with the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Pin.
Our troops gave us everything they have, leaving nothing on the battlefield. We owe it to them to give them our best.