Supporting Our Troops on the Ground in Afghanistan
Days before US Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden, Congressman Runyan was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation that flew to Afghanistan to meet with top level military and civilian commanders in order to discuss the security situation on the ground and strategy for ongoing efforts against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
He got a firsthand look into Village Stability Operations performed by Special Operations Forces -- a key aspect of General David Petraeus' counter-insurgency efforts -- and attended a powerful memorial service for fallen soldiers prior to their bodies being placed onto a military plane to return home for burial.
"Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is a major Air Mobility Command hub for airlift into theater and a key mobilization site for troops deploying to and returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. It was an invaluable opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge on the progress we've achieved, and was an honor to meet with and personally thank our brave troops," said Rep. Runyan.
Standing up for the Workers at Joint Base
Congressman Runyan succeeded in passing a provision that would help establish pay parity standards for workers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst as part of the House Armed Services Committee's consideration of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House on May 26th. The amendment corrects the disparity that exists for all installations designated "joint" as part of the 2005 BRAC, and would help ensure that the estimated 600 employees at the Joint Base are paid according to the same wage scale.
"Achieving pay parity for hardworking employees at the Joint Base is long overdue," said Rep. Runyan.
Fighting for Reforms at Arlington National Cemetary
As Chairman of the Veteran's Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Congressman Runyan spearheaded bipartisan legislation to end an unofficial system of "reserved" gravesites for VIP's at Arlington National Cemetery. The legislation, H.R. 1441, advanced swiftly through the Veteran's Affairs Committee as part of a larger bill (H.R. 1627) dealing with Arlington, and passed the House unanimously.
"This important legislation will begin to reverse years of disgraceful mismanagement, ensure that all eligible veterans have an equal opportunity to be laid to rest at Arlington, and that no veteran is given preferential treatment over another. It confirms a commitment we all share to honor our nation's veterans and their families both in life and death," said Rep. Runyan.
Hundreds Attend Veterans' Expo
Recent Veterans' Expos held in Burlington and ocean Counties provided veterans with the latest information on programs, services and benefits available to them. Both events gave the more than 60,000 veterans throughout the 3rd Congressional District the opportunity to speak in person with representatives from key Veterans' Service Organizations including regional medical facilities.
"It's a privilege to provide veterans and their families an opportunity to access valuable information about the benefits and resources they have earned through their service to our country," said Rep. Runyan.
Advocating for the Benefits & Services Veterans Need
On April 6, 2011 Rep. Runyan introduced his first bill as a Member of Congress, H.R. 1407, to provide a cost of living increase for veterans' disability benefits. The bill moved quickly through committee and passed the House on May 23rd by voice vote. He is also a co-sponsor of legislation to modify the "Post-9/11 GI Bill" in order to protect students who have already enrolled in high-cost, non-public schools from experiencing a reduction in tuition benefits paid by the VA on their behalf.
The Congressman is also committed to helping address the massive backlog of veterans' benefits claims at the VA. On June 1, the House passed H.R. 1484 (the Veterans' Appeals Improvement Act of 2011). The bill originated in the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) subcommittee chaired by Congressman Runyan and streamlines the claims and appeals process for disabled veterans at the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The legislation received almost unanimous support with a vote of 419-1.
"Congress has an obligation to make good on the promises made to our veterans and provide the benefits they've rightfully earned through their service to our country," said Rep. Runyan.