Tester: VA Secretary schedules Montana visit

Secretary will meet with vets in Billings and Helena

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs will meet with veterans in Billings and Helena during a visit to Montana on Wednesday, February 20, Senator Jon Tester announced today.

Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, invited Secretary James B. Peake to Montana late last year to see firsthand the state and issues affecting veterans.

On the morning of February 20 in Billings, Peake will join Tester for a town hall meeting for veterans between 9:15 and 10:30 a.m. in the Treasure State Ballroom at the new Hilton Garden Inn (960 S. 24th St. W.).  The meeting is free and open to the public, and veterans are encouraged to attend.

Peake will also tour the Billings VA Clinic, which he recently agreed to expand and move to a new location.  Peake and Tester will then travel to Helena for a tour of Ft. Harrison, Montana's only VA hospital.

At Ft. Harrison Peake and Tester will also host a roundtable discussion with administrators and various leaders of veterans' service organizations.  That meeting, between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. at the Ft. Harrison Recreation Hall, is also free and open to the public, although the discussion will be limited to invited participants.

"Secretary Peake is committed to seeing what's going on in Montana, and I appreciate the fact he wants to hear from veterans in our state," Tester said. "He'll see what we mean when we say Montana isn't just a rural state, it's a frontier state.  He'll see how much we still have to do to live up to the promises we made to Montana's vets."

The following events are free and open to the public:

EVENT:  Peake & Tester Town Hall Meeting for Veterans

DATE/TIME:  Wednesday, February 20 from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

LOCATION:  Billings Hilton Garden Inn (Treasure State Ballroom) 960 South 24th Street West

EVENT:  Peake & Tester Roundtable Discussion with State Leaders

DATE/TIME:  Wednesday, February 20 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

LOCATION:  Recreation Hall (Hospital Building) Ft. Harrison

Peake, a medical doctor, was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate last December.  After serving in Vietnam, Peake served as Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.  His official biography is online HERE.

Just last week, Peake implemented a new policy championed by Tester, increasing by 250% the VA's mileage reimbursement rate for disabled vets who travel to receive health care.  The new reimbursement rate is now 28.5 cents per mile.  It had been 11 cents per mile since 1977.