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10 Broadcaster Press November 21, 2017 www.broadcasteronline.com For Many South Dakota Families, Every Day Is Veterans Day By Sen. John Thune Veterans Crisis Line on the VA’s website, www. honoring America’s veterans is ensuring we’ve heroes have made over the generations and the VA.gov. The line is open 24 hours per day, seven got their back when they leave the front lines contributions they’ve made to the strength of days per week, and veterans can reach out any of the battlefield and return home to potential our democracy. It’s because of them that we’re challenges with furthering their education, find- time by texting 838255 or calling 1-800-273-8255 still able to call America a beacon of hope and and pressing one. I appreciate his responsiveing a good-paying job, and staying healthy. opportunity around the world. ness on this important issue and will continue This year alone, Congress has sent several This year, for the first time ever, the presito engage with him on issues impacting South dent has designated the entire month of Novem- critical bills to the president for his signature, Dakota veterans. including the “Forever GI Bill,” which expands ber as Veterans and Military Families Month. Let’s never forget the reasons why America veterans’ eligibility for GI Bill benefits. We also Following the president’s proclamation, U.S. has so much to celebrate and be thankful for, passed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Department of and let’s never compromise in our collective Act and the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David effort to ensure America’s veterans have the Modernization Act, both of which have been Shulkin said, “Our veterans and military famitools, resources, support, and respect they signed into law. lies are an important part of our lives throughneed and deserve once their military service I’m especially happy to report that earlier out the year, and by focusing for the first has ended. this year, Secretary Shulkin quickly acted on time nationally on a whole month of activities my request to more prominently feature the nationwide for Veterans and Military Families Month, we can more fully • AUTOMOTIVE COLLISION REPAIR celebrate and • PAINT • FRAMEWORK recognize their • GLASS REPLACEMENT contributions to the nation.” I’m glad to see the administration is focused M-F Design/Build • Fiber Cabling • Commercial • Residential on this impor9AM-6PM tant issue. Service Calls • Boom Truck with Auger • Trenching SAT Particularly 9AM-12PM for me as a legServing the islator, an im1205 CARR STREET • VERMILLION • 605.670.0471 Beresford and 1221 Cornell St., Vermillion, SD • 605-624-5642 portant part of BlainesBodyShop@gmail.com Vermillion Areas 201 NW 13th St., Ste. 3, Beresford, SD • 800-560-2518 For South Dakota families that have a loved one who is either currently serving in the military, has already hung up his or her uniform, or whose beloved sevicemember is no longer with us, every day is Veterans Day. These family members are proud of their mom or dad, son or daughter, and every day is an opportunity to celebrate and honor them. Speaking from personal experience, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad and his service to the nation during World War II. And as the world has become increasingly complex and dangerous, I am reminded daily of the freedoms and security we enjoy because of the selfless service of our veterans across our state and nation. For folks without a family connection to a veteran or the military in general, the level of respect is no less. Veterans are an integral part of our community – they’re our colleagues, our friends, and our neighbors. No matter the connection, though, every November 11, we all pause to draw special attention to the service and sacrifice made by the men and women in uniform who have served or continue to serve here and around the world. While Veterans Day is a time for ceremonies and parades, it’s also an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the sacrifice America’s war Honoring Native American Heritage By Sen. Mike Rounds The rich and vibrant history of Native Americans is deeply woven into the fabric of America, especially in South Dakota. I believe we should celebrate our diversity. To honor their culture and the countless contributions Native Americans have made to our society, President Trump recently designated November as National Native American Heritage Month. Native Americans called South Dakota home long before Europeans settled in the West. South Dakota was originally a part of the vast territory of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people. A number of other tribal nations include the Dakota Territory in their histories as well. Today, our state is home to nine sovereign tribal governments, comprising more than 70,000 enrolled members. I have appreciated the opportunity to work closely with tribal government leaders on a number of initiatives both during my time as governor and now as a senator. One priority of mine has been to improve the quality of care at Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities in South Dakota. It is well-known that IHS has failed to live up to its trust responsibility to provide health care services to Native Americans, particularly in the Great Plains Region which includes our state. Decades of mismanagement and poor leadership at IHS have resulted in a health care crisis created by government bureaucrats. The IHS facilities within the Great Plains Region have the worst health care outcomes of any of the 12 regions nationwide, including the lowest life expectancy, highest diabetes death rate, highest tuberculosis death rate and the highest overall age-adjusted death rate. This is unacceptable. I have repeatedly said that the first step to fixing the crisis is to understand where the problems lie within the agency itself. For this reason, I introduced a bill that calls for an outside assessment of IHS. My bill would require an in-depth look at the overall financial structure, organizational structure and quality of care at the agency. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs recently held a legislative hearing on our bill. The hearing was productive, and the testimony from Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Chairman Dave Flute in support of our IHS assessment bill was helpful in educating committee members about the severity of the problems at Great Plains Region IHS facilities. Our proposal is now moving forward in the Senate. The problems at IHS are at a crisis level, and our bill is a first step toward getting the agency back on track. The federal government must live up to its trust and treaty responsibility to provide quality health care to Native American citizens. This month, as we honor the culture of our Native American friends and neighbors, I encourage South Dakotans to also acknowledge the hardships they have faced throughout history and those they continue to face today. 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