Each year on Memorial Day, we honor the lives of the men and women who bravely served our country and paid the ultimate price. We can never repay them for the sacrifice they made to defend the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. We can, however, work to improve the quality of life for veterans and provide our armed forces with the resources they need to be in the strongest position possible.
I serve on both the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. We have recently been working on legislation in the Armed Services Committee to authorize funds for the defense of our nation. We call this the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, and it is one of the bills passed by Congress every year that receives widespread bipartisan support. It’s also one of the most important pieces of legislation to pass out of Congress each year because the defense of our nation remains priority number one as we seek to strengthen our military and improve readiness levels.
In an increasingly dangerous world, the United States military remains the best of the best. It’s the responsibility of congress to make sure our armed forces have all the tools they need to defend our country and deter attacks from our enemies.
Just before Memorial Day, congress passed legislation I introduced with Sen. John Thune and Sen. Mike Enzi to double the size of the Black Hills National Cemetery. Our bill, which will facilitate a permanent land transfer of around 200 acres from the Bureau of Land Management to the cemetery outside of Sturgis, comes after years of work. This land in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota will be the final resting place for thousands of veterans. Passing this bill is a small way for us to show our gratitude to them and their families.
The Black Hills National Cemetery was dedicated by the Army in 1948. It was projected to run out of burial space by 2031, but this permanent land transfer will make sure generations of South Dakota veterans will have a place to rest peacefully.
It’s an honor to work on behalf of South Dakota’s servicemembers and veterans in the United States Senate. I’m committed to advancing legislation to improve veterans’ quality of life, strengthen our armed forces and cut red tape within the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you are a veteran or servicemember and have a specific question or concern, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Office phone numbers and locations can be found at rounds.senate.gov.
—By Sen. Mike Rounds