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Begich Keynote Speaker at Annual NOAA Dinner

Emphasizes Importance of Military Families

Emphasizing the importance of supporting military families and recognizing their sacrifices, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich last night delivered the keynote address at an annual dinner for officers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps and their families. The event was held at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.

"The families of the men and women deployed on NOAA's ships and aircraft undergo many of the same sacrifices military families go through,"  Begich said. "Their loved ones are away from home for months at a time, working in a dangerous environment, although thankfully no one is shooting at them.  They miss birthdays, anniversaries, first steps and soccer games.  Their spouses are left to juggle hockey practice, mowing the lawn, and checking that homework gets done, all single-handedly.   And then, every few years, they are uprooted to move across the country and start all over again.  Our military families go through the same things.   We can't do enough to support them and their sacrifices and service."

The NOAA Corps is a uniformed service that operates NOAA's fleet of research ships and aircraft.   The officers all have a scientific background, and combine a theoretical understanding of the agency's science with practical knowledge of how to get a mission done.   NOAA Corps officers fly aircraft through hurricanes to improve forecasts and operate ships in the Bering Sea to survey fish populations.

Begich is a strong supporter of military families as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Senate 'Oceans Subcommittee' which oversees NOAA.  To support military families, Begich recently authored successful legislation extending TRICARE benefits to military dependents until age 26. He is a member of the Military Families Caucus, and has been working to implement flexible spending accounts for service members.

"May is Military Family Appreciation month, but really every month should be," said Begich. "With Alaska soldiers deployed overseas, our military families struggle every day with an empty chair at the dinner table. They deserve our respect and support."

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