Tester to Take Gavel as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee
Senator continues to fight for veterans in Montana and across the nation in new leadership role
After years of serving Montana's veterans and fighting to deliver quality care and benefits to the nation's men and women in uniform, U.S. Senator Jon Tester will take over the gavel as Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in the new Congress. Tester will lead his first hearing tomorrow as Chairman on the pending nomination of Denis R. McDonough to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), and continue his partnership with Republican Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) who will serve as Ranking Member.
"Serving as Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee is an honor of a lifetime, and I'm grateful for the chance to lead the committee on behalf of Montana's veterans and all who've served our nation proudly," said Chairman Tester. "I'm looking forward to continuing the bipartisan partnership Senator Moran and I have built, and am ready to roll up my sleeves along with our committee members and veterans advocates to hold the VA accountable, cut red tape, and provide quality care and benefits to those who've sacrificed on behalf of our freedoms. Taking care of our veterans is a continuing cost of war, and I'm prepared to get to work in this new role to ensure Congress follows through on this sacred duty."
Tester has been a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee since he joined the Senate in 2007. For years, Tester has been a champion for veterans in the Senate, working with various Veterans Service Organizations to push critical initiatives such as the expansion of benefits and care for those exposed to Agent Orange, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, the Deborah Sampson Act, and the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans, Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act.
Montana and national veterans' groups praised Tester's new role:
"It's a great day for Montana's veterans, and speaking in particular for the members of the Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), it will be not only be a honor, but very much a pleasure to work with Senator Jon Tester, who has not only earned the respect of his Congressional peers, but also with us Montana folk, to be placed in such an esteemed position," said Montana National VFW Representative Tom Johnson.
"Senator Tester assuming the Chairmanship will be a great benefit to the veterans of Montana and our nation," said Department Adjutant of the American Legion Department of Montana Gary White. "The American Legion of Montana looks forward to his continued success in strengthening the Veterans Administration and their services to our veterans."
"The American Legion has worked closely with Senator Tester and his office for many years. During the time we have worked with him, he has proven himself to be deeply committed to improving VA care and all of the services that VA provides to veterans and their families," said American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford. "The American Legion congratulates Senator Tester on his elevation to Chairmanship of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee and we look forward to working with him to ensure we maintain a robust and healthy VA to serve our nation's veterans."
"Senator Tester has been an unyielding champion for our nation's veterans, helping to advance legislation to reform VA health care, improve programs for caregivers and women veterans, and ensure veterans exposed to toxic substances receive the benefits they deserve, among many other critical issues," said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Commander Stephen "Butch" Whitehead. "DAV congratulates him on his chairmanship, and we look forward to working with him and Senator Moran in the continued bipartisan spirit of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee."
"AMVETS is pleased to hear of Senator Jon Tester's elevation to Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs for the 117th Congress," said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly. "AMVETS has worked closely with Senator Tester and supported legislation sponsored by the Senator, including, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019, a measure that approves benefits for Vietnam War veterans suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson's-like symptoms (conditions thought to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange), and more. We're excited to continue our work with the VA Committee with Senator Tester at the helm of the Senate side."
"The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) congratulates Senator Tester on his elevation to Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee (SVAC)," said BVA National Service Director of Veterans Benefits & Policy Jim Vale. "Senator Tester's steadfast leadership and legislative achievements ensured blinded veterans access to Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation services, special adaptive housing grants, and website accessibility-by eliminating barriers-while increasing transparency and accountability. He has championed expanded access to health care for women and Vietnam veterans, while spearheading legislation adding 3 new conditions for Agent Orange exposure. Senator Tester has proven time and again that veterans benefits are hard-earned, and his willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder-with all veterans-is a testament to his leadership and preparedness to serve as our next SVAC Chairman."
"On behalf of our more than 425,000 members, I offer my warmest congratulations to Senator Tester on his elevation to Chairman," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO Jeremy Butler. "His untiring commitment to our nation's veterans, from his leadership on landmark legislation to address the crisis of veteran suicide and the due recognition of women veterans, to his focus on benefits for those with toxic exposures like Agent Orange, underscores that there is no greater friend our community can have in this important post at this time. We look forward to his bipartisan and effective stewardship of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee!"
"The VFW applauds the announcement of Senator Jon Tester as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs," said VFW Executive Director B.J. Lawrence. "Senator Tester has been a constant advocate for veterans during his tenure on the committee and we are confident he will continue to lead bipartisan efforts to help veterans as the Chairman."
"We look forward to working with Sen. Tester in his new role as Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee," said National President and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) John Rowan. "This Committee has always been bipartisan, so we have had the pleasure of working with the Senator for a number of years, as well as all his colleagues, on behalf of America's veterans and their families."
Read additional statements of support from Veterans Service Organizations HERE.