Joint Veterans Caucus Celebrates Major Accomplishments
Joint Veterans Caucus celebrates new membership, military veteran bills, events, and looks ahead to future priorities
JUNEAU—This year revealed a new dynamic throughout the Joint Legislative Veterans’ Caucus. The caucus grew to 14 members with newcomers Representatives Doug Isaacson, R-North Pole, and Pete Higgins, R-Fairbanks. House members are now led by newly appointed Co-Chair Representative Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks.
Representative Isaacson served in the U.S. Air Force at Eielson Air Force Base as a Russian linguist and is a recent recipient of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce’s Messer Award, the signature award at the annual Military Appreciation Banquet, for his contributions to the military community.
“The Joint Veterans Caucus members represent a tradition of honorable military service that reflects the service of thousands of veterans and their families in Alaska,” Representative Isaacson said. “As a member of the Joint Armed Services Committee working on current military issues, I look forward to working with the Joint Veterans Caucus to promote and address the issues and needs of those who have served our nation and state.”
“I was honored to be asked to co-chair the caucus and follow in the footsteps of Bill Thomas,” Representative Thompson, a former Army Sergeant said. “I was humbled by the opportunity to work with and for veterans in Alaska.”
Senate President and Veterans Caucus Co-Chair Charlie Huggins said, “I am pleased with the energy our new members bring. Our members are very dispersed throughout the state, giving us the eye we need in our communities.”
The Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 67, sponsored by Joint Veterans Caucus Co-Chair Representative Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, marking March 29 of every year as “Vietnam Veterans Day,” and House Bill 84, sponsored by Representative Dan Saddler, R-JBER/Eagle River, allowing applicable military credit, training to be used toward licensing or college.
Joint Veterans Caucus Co-Chair, Senate President Charlie Huggins, and Representative Thompson, also joined forces with Governor Sean Parnell and representatives from the Rasmuson Foundation to host a ceremony honoring Alaska’s women veterans.
“Our young men and women volunteer to go serve with Uncle Sam and this is about those young men and women,” said Senator Huggins. “Some of them come back and you can see the scars on their bodies. Others you can’t see it, but it’s someplace. It’s tough.”
The caucus has new leadership in Vice Chair Representative Bob Herron, D-Bethel, too.
“In military terms, my year as Vice Chair of the Veteran’s Caucus, specifically in USMC terms, has been outstanding.” Representative Herron said. “Two items the caucus worked hard on this session were the March 29th Designation of Vietnam Veteran’s Day and the continuing planning process for an Alaska Veteran’s Memorial Wall which would potentially be across the street from the State Capitol. Veterans defend our country and we must always defend them. There is always more work to do and I am enthusiastic about further improvements.”
Veterans Caucus members will continue to work with the Department of Defense on their legislative priorities going forward.