Senator Joe Donnelly spoke with Indiana media today to engage the nearly 500,000 Hoosier veterans and their concerns, including the timely receipt of benefits and healthcare, securing civilian employment, the Veterans History Project, and a recent controversy over the placement of a medal recognizing drone pilots and cyber warriors over battlefield decorations including the Purple Heart.
"I'm focused on ensuring that veterans earn the benefits they earned and that we appropriately honor their sacrifices," said Donnelly. "This takes a comprehensive approach. From VA benefits and employment programs to recording veterans' experiences with the Veterans History Project, I want Hoosier veterans to know that I am their advocate in Washington."
Donnelly encouraged veterans to contact his office in the event of difficulty with a VA claim or GI Bill benefits, giving the number to his Indianapolis office, 317-226-5555, and his official website, www.donnelly.senate.gov. The Senator said he is making other efforts to contact and support Hoosier veterans as well, citing a letter to the editor on the Veterans History Project that recently ran in several Indiana newspapers.
Donnelly also expressed optimism that the Department of Defense would "do the right thing" and rank medals earned on the battlefield above a new decoration honoring drone pilots and cyber warriors. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a review of the medal's order of precedence this week after veterans groups and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers criticized the decoration's placement above battlefield decorations including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. "I'm pleased that Secretary Hagel has initiated this process," said Donnelly.