NBC Montana: U.S. Senate passes bill to name Butte VA clinic after Montana Pearl Harbor survivor

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Thursday to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Butte after a Montana Pearl Harbor survivor.

Montana’s congressional delegation signed a letter to Senate and House leadership last month seeking support to rename the Butte VA clinic after Charlie Dowd.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale and U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke.

The bill now moves to the House for a vote and final approval.

Dowd was a World War II veteran who was awarded seven bronze star medals throughout his service. He passed away in March 2023 and was Montana’s last survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines sent out the following:

U.S. Senator Steve Daines today announced that his bill to designate the clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Butte, Montana, as the Charlie A. Dowd VA Clinic passed out of the U.S. Senate. Charlie Dowd passed away in March 2023 and was Montana’s last survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dowd was an advocate for his fellow veterans and dedicated to preserving the memory of the events of World War II and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Dowd was an active member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and spoke for civic groups and at museums across Montana. During the course of his service, Dowd was awarded seven bronze star medals.

“Charlie Dowd is an American hero, and he should be remembered as such. Renaming the Butte VA Clinic after Charlie is just a small way for us to continue his legacy of serving his fellow veterans and honor his lifetime of service to our great state and nation,” Daines said.

Daines introduced the bill in November 2023 and urged Congressional leadership to support his bill in March 2024.

In August 2018, Senator Daines honored Charlie Dowd in the Congressional Record.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester sent out the following:

The Senate today unanimously passed bipartisan legislation spearheaded by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester and the Montana Congressional delegation to name the Butte VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in honor of Montana World War II hero Charlie Dowd, Montana’s last surviving Pearl Harbor survivor who passed in March 2023. The bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

“Charlie Dowd’s extraordinary courage at Pearl Harbor and exemplary service is what makes our country the greatest in the world,” said Tester. “He was one of Montana’s very best, and naming the new Butte VA Clinic in his honor ensures his legacy and that of the entire Greatest Generation is never forgotten by future generations of Montanans. It’s a fitting honor for a facility that serves thousands of Butte-Silver Bow veterans, and I urge my colleagues in the House to swiftly pass this bill.”

Tester and the Montana delegation sent a letter to Senate and House leadership last month, urging support of their legislation to rename the Butte VA clinic in Dowd’s name.

A champion for improving Butte-area veterans’ access to quality care and services, Tester secured funds for the new state-of-the-art Butte VA CBOC that opened its doors in April 2022. He was the only member of the Montana delegation to vote for both of the federal spending bills that made this new clinic possible.

Tester also led the decades-long push alongside local community leaders and veterans to secure the funds and necessary resources to get the Southwest Montana Veterans Home project off the ground and open.