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Alaska Veterans Push Back on False Sullivan Attacks


ANCHORAGE — Alaska veterans are pushing back on false claims made by U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan and his Outside supporters. Sullivan is once again stooping to attacks on Mark Begich’s record of fighting for Alaska veterans, active duty service members, and their families, even accusing Begich of not respecting military service.

Alaska veterans are setting the record straight:

“Mark was instrumental in getting health care and services out to Rural Alaska. His work on the Hero’s Health card brought affordable access to hundreds and thousands of veterans in Alaska,” said Willard Jackson, a military veteran from Ketchikan.

“Senator Mark Begich respects every member of our armed services. He will stand up and go the extra mile to honor and thank those of us who served in the past and our young men and women in service today. I am proud to have Mark as my Senator because of the work he has done for our nation’s military members and their families,” said Troy Bouffard, a military veteran from Fairbanks.

Sullivan previously attempted to turn the Arizona VA scandal into a political attack in Alaska. The attacks were called “false” and “not true” by independent fact check groups. Sullivan’s most recent false attacks come on the heels of an investigation by Maryland tax officials into tax breaks he received on a million dollar Maryland home while serving as a poitical appointee in the Bush White House.

Begich is the only member of Alaska’s delegation to serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, giving Alaska a powerful and influential voice in Washington. Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state.

Last week the U.S. Senate passed a Begich bill to increase cost of living adjustments (COLA) to veterans receiving disability compensation, mirroring the COLA adjustments for Social Security. The legislation will benefit 4.5 million veterans as early as 2015.

Begich is also credited with historic agreements between the VA and tribal health facilities, to allow veterans in Alaska to get care in their community, without having to travel to Anchorage or Seattle. Begich stood up for Alaska veterans by writing and championing the Alaska Hero’s Card Act of 2011, which VA officials mirrored in their agreement with Alaska Native tribes. Begich’s leadership and effectiveness in pushing for solutions for rural veterans gave way to the negotiations between the VA and rural clinics. Begich’s plan is now being implemented across the country. The agreements have helped reduce wait lists at Alaska’s VA from over 900 to almost zero.

  • Alaska Territorial Guard – In 2009, Senator Begich successfully secured reinstatement of pension payments for members of the WWII-era Alaska Territorial Guard.
  • “Significant legislative victory for veterans” – The Disabled American Veterans called Begich’s push to establish advanced appropriation for veterans health programs “the most significant legislative victory of veterans in a generation.”
  • Extended TRICARE for Military Dependents – In 2011, Begich helped extend TRICARE services for dependent children of military members to the age of 26.
  • Waived Telehealth Copays – In 2012, Begich and Sen. Grassley’s proposal to waive copays for telehealth and telemedicine visits for veterans was signed into law.
  • Historic Rural Care Access – Begich followed through on campaign promise to help veterans access care closer to home by allowing rural veterans access to Native health facilities.
  • Recognition from Combat Veterans’ Organization - In March, Begich received an Inspirational Leadership Award from the Military Order of the Purple Heart for his work on behalf of veterans.
  • Secured access to Space-A for Guard Members - Begich pushed to allow members of the National Guard or Guard Reserve to gain access to Space-A seats on military planes, previously limited to active-duty soldiers.
  • Advocated for victims of military sexual assault - Begich sponsored legislation to change the chain of command in military sexual assault prosecutions.
  • Restored benefits for military retirees — Begich passed legislation to restore benefits to military retirees affected by a 2013 budget.
  • Fought against military commissary price increases — Begich staunchly opposes price increases at military commissaries which would have a devastating effect on Alaska’s military families.