Since her swearing-in in January, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has quickly become engaged in defense community issues, meeting multiple times with North Dakota’s defense community leadership in Minot, Fargo, Bismarck and the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee in just the early months of her first term.
Heitkamp has been instrumental in her advocacy for North Dakota’s defense community priorities, including bringing the next tanker mission to Grand Forks Air Force Base and ensuring the top leaders at DOD understand the importance of maintaining and modernizing the nation’s nuclear triad, a critical mission for Minot AFB. Heitkamp also never misses an opportunity to discuss the proud history of the 119th Happy Hooligans at Fargo Air National Guard Base and the state’s National Guard members with top Air Force and National Guard leaders.
For her outstanding leadership supporting defense communities, military installations, service members and veterans in North Dakota and across the country, ADC is awarding the freshman senator one of the association’s inaugural Congressional Leadership awards. ADC added the new category to its Defense Community Awards program in conjunction with moving the association’s annual conference to Washington, D.C., this year.
Award winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill next week during the Defense Communities National Summit.
Among the many issues Heitkamp has worked with local leaders in North Dakota to address are a proposed unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) business park that would be developed at Grand Forks AFB as an enhanced use leasing project, promoting the growth of the North Dakota economy by supporting increased UAS development and easing housing concerns in defense communities across the state.
State, regional and local leaders involved in defense community issues have attested to Heitkamp’s willingness and enthusiasm to understand the mission and strategic plans of the state’s military installations and how their futures are affected by budget matters and decisions facing Pentagon leaders. She sees the priorities of the state’s defense communities as not only North Dakota’s contribution to national security, but to the men and women of North Dakota and their long-standing support for the military.