Celebrating Military Families
The month of April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child. This is a time to appreciate the sacrifices made by the children of service members. We are forever grateful to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. We are also grateful to their family members who support them while they are away protecting our country. This month, we celebrate and honor the children who love and support their moms and dads serving in our armed forces.
South Dakotans have a long history of service to our country. We are proud supporters of our military members and veterans. South Dakotans fought hard to keep Ellsworth Air Force Base operational when it was being considered for closure in 2005. At the time, I was working as governor and I’ll never forget how communities across the state, especially Box Elder and Rapid City, came together to show their unwavering support for the base and the families who were stationed there. They played an important role in protecting the base from closure.
Now, Ellsworth is in a stronger position than ever. It has been announced Ellsworth will be home to the B-21 Formal Training Unit and will be the first base to receive an operational squadron of the B-21 Raider bomber, the Air Force’s next-generation stealth bomber. Ellsworth will continue to play a critical role in our defense strategy for years to come. This means Ellsworth and the surrounding communities will see an increased number of military members and their families in the coming years. I know we will welcome them the way we’ve welcomed thousands of military families since the 28th Bomb Wing was activated in 1947.
In the Senate, I serve on the Armed Services Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. I work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve the quality of life for service members and veterans, and their families. We also work to strengthen our armed forces to make sure service members have all the tools available to them to protect our country and return home safely to their loved ones.
Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a pay raise for our troops—the largest pay increase in nearly ten years. It also included provisions to make sure our armed forces remain the best in the world by providing adequate resources so our forces can fully rebuild our military and address the many challenges facing our nation. The most important asset of our armed forces is their people—the men and women in uniform who defend our nation, and the families who give them the support to do so.
This year, the Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 189th Aviation in Rapid City received a Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award for being one of the best programs in the country for supporting Reserve Component families. These units play an important role in helping families feel cared for and connected during loved ones’ deployments.
Jean and I thank all the military families in South Dakota and South Dakota military families serving around the world for the sacrifices they make while their loved ones are protecting our country. And this month, we say a special thank you to the children whose parents are serving in our armed forces. Your support means everything to them as they work hard to defend our country.