Iowa Senator Joni Ernst visits Arizona to campaign for McSally among veterans

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, the first Republican female military veteran in the U.S. Senate or Congress, visited Arizona Thursday to campaign for Rep. Martha McSally, an Air Force veteran, in her race for the U.S. Senate.

The pair’s first stop in Phoenix was a roundtable meeting with military veterans living in the Valley who have served in the armed forces in a variety of administrative and combat settings.

“I am very glad to be here to support Martha (McSally), not only as a truly wonderful addition coming into the United States Senate… but I need her,” Ernst said to the veterans gathered around her and McSally. “She’s a brilliant legislator, but she also has worn those boots that I’ve worn and has been a very, very successful leader in her own right in the military, and so I need that voice.”

Ernst began her military career as an engineer, then worked in military transportation before culminating her service as a logistics officer. She now serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, part of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“(Ernst) and I are actually the only female veterans in the entire House and Senate in the GOP,” McSally said. “We need more veterans in Congress. We need the veterans to represent the diversity of all those who served, to have that voice for strong national security, for support to our troops and our military… and to the continuing covenant that we have for our veterans after they transition out.”

McSally said the Veterans Affairs (VA) office is one of her top priorities if she is voted into the Senate, advocating the importance of providing high-quality, easily accessible physical and mental health care to military veterans. The recent VA Mission Act signed into law by President Trump has helped streamline seven different VA health programs into one, but it will require tight oversight to make sure the new law is implemented correctly to avoid “bureaucracy” getting in the way of veterans’ care.

“When you have a choice between the bureaucrats or the veterans, I’m going to choose the veterans every single time, and I’m proud of that,” McSally said.

McSally urged any veterans to reach out to her office if they have issues, whether in Congress or the Senate. Communication is the key to finding out what constituents want and how she can help, McSally said.

“Not everything takes an act of Congress to fix,” McSally said. “Just keep that open communication with us. We’ve got to be able to have our military be as strong as possible for us to be able to keep us safe, but we’ve got to have this covenant for our veterans to make sure that we’re supporting them.”

Ernst echoed McSally’s concern for veterans issues, noting the importance of reaching out to representatives in the House and Senate before bad policy gets signed into law.

“Those are the priorities; they come from you,” Ernst said. “We have to know what issues you have. And the way I explain it to my constituents in Iowa: If you hear of anything on the horizon, if you understand that there’s something going on, don’t assume that we know about it. You have to communicate it to us.”

Graham Bosch

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