Iowa Congressman Tom Latham spoke of the critically important efforts of Guard and Reserve members in protecting American national security while accepting the Reserve Officer Association's prestigious Minuteman of the Year Award on Monday.
"Citizen-soldiers from every state, every background and every walk of life have answered their country's call to duty. No other country in the world has a reserve force that plays such a key national security role," Latham said during his remarks at the 2011 National Security Symposium and Reserve Component Expo.
The Reserve Officer Association's Minuteman of the Year award is presented annually to a "citizen who has contributed most to National Security during these times." The ROA cited several of Congressman Latham's legislative initiatives during the 111th Congress in recognizing him with the award. The organization praised a bill he introduced to eliminate an unintended technical restriction that has kept some Guard and Reserve members from receiving full retirement credit for time spent on deployment. The ROA also pointed to proposals supported by Latham to extend TRICARE coverage to additional Reserve retirees and to allow veterans to use their VA health benefits at local health care facilities outside of the VA system.
Previous recipients of the Minute Man of the Year Award include President Ronald Reagan in 1983, President George Bush in 1991, Sen. Daniel Inouye in 1993, President George W. Bush in 2002 and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2009.
Congressman Latham expressed gratitude to all members of the National Guard and Reserve during his speech, including the 2,800 Iowa Guard members who were called up for active duty last year and are now serving in Afghanistan.
He called for a renewed commitment in Congress to make sure Guard and Reserve members receive the full benefits they've earned and are given the necessary resources to make the transition back to civilian life after their military service is over.
"We must work together to ensure the men and women of the Guard and Reserve have the equipment and funding they need to succeed and the benefits they deserve," Congressman Latham said before a crowd that included many top-ranking officials in the National Guard and Reserve.
The Reserve Officers Association is the 60,000-member professional association for all
uniformed services of the United States. Chartered by Congress and in existence since 1922, ROA advises and educates the Congress, executive branch and the American people on national security and issues that affect the nearly 1 million men and women now serving in America's National Guard and Reserve components.