VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said benefits due to veterans should be provided by the government with as little red tape and politics as possible.
Heitkamp spoke at the North Dakota AMVETS convention in Valley City Saturday.
“You can’t cut corners on the backs of our veterans,” she said. “Do we do enough to not make our veterans beg for the services they were promised?”
Heitkamp also spoke about the important role of veterans’ organizations such as AMVETS in promoting the cause of veterans before Congress.
“We need all the veterans’ service organizations to be vibrant into the future,” she said. “It is important for veterans’ groups to be able to lobby into the future. We know when we see those hats (referring to the AMVETS hat) why they are there.”
North Dakota Vietnam veterans have become a special project for Heitkamp. Her office is working with Bismarck High School students to prepare biographies for servicemen killed in Vietnam. Heitkamp has been reading these biographies on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoons since December. A poster displaying photos and names of those killed is also available for printing through www.Heitkamp.Senate.gov and was provided to all AMVETS chapters for display at their facilities.
“Every week I do about 15 biographies on the floor of the Senate,” she said. “If we build out a greater awareness of Vietnam, we build out a greater awareness of veterans.”
In an interview after her comments to AMVETS, she said health care and jobs are the two biggest issues for veterans.
“The big issue is what to do to improve health care. What do we do to honor the commitment of health care?” Heitkamp said. “That is more of a problem outside of North Dakota than here.”
She said efforts to connect veterans to employers could help veterans transition to civilian life and bring needed workforce into North Dakota.
By Keith Norman
Published May 18, 2015