Election 2018: Tester recognized by National Guard Association, Montana 55+ for legislative achievements

The National Guard Association awarded Montana Sen. Jon Tester its Harry S. Truman Award for Distinguished Service in Support of National Defense. (Courtesy photo)

Buckle up, it’s going to be a wild week of politicking in Montana, with President Donald Trump planning an unprecedented third trip to the state this campaign season, hoping to swing voters toward Republican senatorial candidate Matt Rosendale.

This time, the president is headed for Missoula, certainly the state’s most liberal city and a rare win for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The president staged four rallies in key battleground states last week and has three on this week’s agenda, an attempt to energize Republican voters and hold onto control of both houses of Congress in the Nov. 6 election.

Meanwhile, Rosendale’s opponent – incumbent Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester – picked up two significant endorsements this past week.

Here’s a look at those groups and what they had to say.

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The National Guard Association of the United States awarded Tester its highest honor for contributions to the nation’s defense and security.

The Harry S. Truman Award was presented by retired Brigadier General Roy Robinson in recognition of Tester’s legislative efforts to provide the National Guard with the equipment, health care and benefits its soldiers need.

“The Harry S. Truman Award is our association’s highest honor,” said Robinson, president of the National Guard Association. “Previous recipients have been U.S. presidents, members of Congress and senior military leaders. Each made sustained, significant contributions to the security of our nation.  Senator Jon Tester is worthy of inclusion in this distinguished group of patriots.”

In a brief ceremony at his office, posted in an online video, Tester thanked the group: “I am deeply honored  and truly humbled to receive this award. Post-9/11, the United States relies on the National Guard more than ever to keep our nation safe. I will never stop fighting to honor those who bravely serve our nation, especially our citizen soldiers and airmen of the National Guard.”

Among Tester’s achievements noted by the National Guard Association:

As ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Tester authored the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act with Republican chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson. The bill was signed into law Aug. 16, 2017 and makes more Guardsmen eligible for the education benefits they earned. Isakson, a Republican, also received the Harry S. Truman Award, and the group noted the bipartisan accomplishments of Isakson and Tester.

Tester also secured seven new firefighting buckets for the Montana Army National Guard in time for the 2018 fire season.

More recently, he pushed the U.S. Air Force to commit to build a new aircraft apron to park the Montana Air National Guard’s C-130 fleet and secured its full funding in the  2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.

Tester also introduced the Care and Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act to allow Guardsmen and Reservists to access readjustment counseling and outpatient mental health care at VA Vet Centers.

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Also last week, Tester was endorsed by Big Sky 55+, which represents seniors age 55 and older across Montana. Tester has been a champion for the state’s seniors, the group said, and consistently defends Social Security and Medicare.

Said Carol Juneau, chair of Big Sky 55+: “Jon has never backed down from a fight to make sure that we are following through on our promises to Montana seniors. Year after year, Jon goes to bat to make sure Montanans 55 and older have access to quality, affordable health care and economic security.

“With politicians trying to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, we need a champion in Congress more than ever. Jon is that champion, and we’re proud to endorse him.”

Rosendale has supported privatizing Social Security and has called for the full repeal of the current health care law, which provided additional benefits and cut prescription drug costs for Montana seniors on Medicare.

“I’ll never stop fighting back against out-of-touch politicians who try to privatize or cut Social Security and Medicare,” Tester said in a statement released with the endorsement. “These programs are cornerstones of our communities, not just for hundreds of thousands of Montana seniors, but for the next generation. I’m proud to have the endorsement of Big Sky 55+, and will continue to fight for Montana’s seniors in the Senate.”