As I reflected during Memorial Day on those who gave all to protect this great nation, I can’t help but feel sickened as many of our elected leaders consciously choose to ignore the threats we face today and shamelessly pay lip service to veterans struggling to survive after having valiantly battled those threats.
Such abdication of responsibility, as history has shown, only leads to a more dangerous world, more fallen to honor on Memorial Day, and more surviving veterans in need of our help and gratitude.
The world is a safer and more stable place when the United States shows strong leadership. Yet our president continues living in an apologetic dream world while his hand-picked VA secretary compares long waits and substandard care at VA facilities like Tomah to the inconveniences of long lines for Disney amusement rides.
Seriously? In what universe do these so-called leaders exist? Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day while the president apologizes and the VA secretary compares their plight to Disney. Sickening is an understatement.
Thankfully there is one man trying vigorously to bring sanity to the situation. His name is Sen. Ron Johnson.
I am a retired, 25-year U.S. Army veteran. I’ve known Ron for many years. He is one of the hardest-working men I’ve ever met, and he is absolutely committed to promoting a strong national defense, standing up for veterans, and finding out exactly what happened at Tomah.
Many politicians offer excuses, Johnson offers solutions and leadership. From supporting the National Defense Authorization Act to constantly pushing back against the hollowing out of our military, Ron is clearly on the side of our troops.
Ron pushes real solutions to help keep our country safe. He passed legislation in 2015 that improves our ability to keep terrorists out of the U.S. by reforming our visa waiver program. And as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Ron is working to counter the countless threats to our country.
Wisconsin has a leader in Washington who is fighting for all veterans – or as Ron calls them, “the finest among us.” Ron currently has nine veterans on his staff who collectively have more than 125 years of military service. Together, Ron and the veterans on his staff have worked on thousands of constituent cases involving military and veterans’ issues.
Ron helped pass the “Border Jobs for Vets Act” to help secure the border while finding jobs for veterans. And he’s fighting to end the prohibition on members of the military carrying certain weapons on military installations, so they can defend themselves against attacks like last year’s in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Ron is working to make sure what happened at Tomah doesn’t happen again. When Ron learned in January 2015 of the egregious events there, he launched an investigation that helped force the acting VA inspector general to resign. Ron also forced out the management at the Tomah VA, including the chief of staff.
Additionally, Ron fought to force the inspector general to publish 140 previously unreleased reports. Because of Ron’s leadership, we now have more information about what happened and those responsible are no longer a threat to veterans.
Today, we have a stronger national security and a more accountable VA because of Ron Johnson. As a veteran, I’m proud to have Ron fighting for me and I’m proud to call him a friend. Wisconsinites can rest assured that Ron will always be there for our veterans. He will never give up on the finest among us.
Lt. Col. Dan Zimmerman, U.S. Army, retired.