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Wittman's Weekly: Remembering Those Who Served

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II when the Imperial Japanese Forces surrendered. The treaty was officially signed two weeks later on September 2nd on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Over 400,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines lost their lives in WWII, and countless more were wounded either physically or in unimaginable ways by the ravages of years of war. Today, we remember their legacy and that of the 72,000 missing or unaccounted for who died in the service of our nation, both on foreign soil, lost at sea and here in the United States, as well as the service of those who returned home.

Today, nearly 800,000 veterans call Virginia home, and our area alone is home to one of the fastest growing veterans’ populations in the country. I have long believed that our men and women in uniform have earned our utmost respect through sacrifice and hardship, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for that service. I am committed to ensuring our veterans can access the benefits they've earned through their service to a grateful nation. Here are some of the recent actions I’ve taken to support our men and women in uniform and our veterans:

     ·   Last month, I voted in favor of H.R.6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21 NDAA). I am glad that I was able to support such a bipartisan piece of legislation. This bill includes:

     o   funding for the restoration of a second Virginia-class submarine and the required advanced procurement to maintain the two per year build rate;

     o   funding for the Navy to procure 9 battle force ships including one Columbia-class fleet ballistic missile submarine; two Virginia-class submarines; two DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers; one guided missile Frigate (FFG); two T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships; and one expeditionary fast transport ship (EPF);

     o   investments in our surge sealift with the authorization of 4 additional sealift vessels and a new tanker security program are essential elements to getting the Army and Marine Corps to distant shores;

     o   strong oversight of existing resources by limiting funds for a deficient KC-46A tanker and an unmanned surface vessel fleet.

     ·    I introduced the bipartisan Computers for Veterans and Students Act  that would help provide federal surplus and retired computers to non-profit computer refurbishers, who would then repair and distribute these computers to veterans, low-income individuals, students, and seniors in need. This is a prime example of innovative non-profits working hand-in-hand with the government to provide effective solutions for our nation’s veterans.

     ·    The Senate Amendment to H.R. 886, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act, that I co-sponsored was recently signed into law by the President. Modeled after several other successful specialty courts, this bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a Veteran Treatment Court Program to provide grants and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal governments to develop and maintain veteran treatment courts.

I hope you take a moment today to remember the service of all those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. I will continue to fight for those who fought for us, it is the least we can do for their service to our nation.