As the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee and previously as senior member of the panel, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has been a long-standing champion for the military, the men and women who defend the nation, military families and veterans.
In recognition that a strong national defense is one of the most important functions of the federal government, the four-term senator has continually fought to ensure the armed forces have the resources they need to fulfill their mission and the military budget remains a fixed percentage of the gross domestic product.
One of the four-term senator’s highest priorities has been addressing the failing condition of DOD Education Activity (DODEA) and public schools serving the children of service members. Inhofe’s effort to sponsor language directing the Pentagon to report on the status of DODEA schools prompted the department and states to award grants to replace or upgrade schools located on military installations. In April, Army, state and local officials broke ground on a $45 million elementary school at Fort Sill, Okla., made possible by a $37 million grant from DOD.
Inhofe also is a longtime supporter of Tinker Air Force Base, recognized by ADC as 2013 Installation of the Year for developing new partnerships that enhance services and increase cost savings for the military and nearby communities.
Inhofe also has been an advocate for veterans, sponsoring legislation to establish state of the art medical treatment facilities, and pushing for health care and other retirement benefits. In 2008, he co-sponsored the GI Bill Educational Assistance Transferability Act, which allowed veterans to transfer their GI Bill benefits to family members.
Recently the senator resisted a DOD decision to eliminate a highly successful tuition assistance program for service members intended to prepare them for civilian careers. An amendment sponsored by Inhofe and Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.) and enacted in March, however, forced DOD to restart the program, which allows military personnel to earn college degrees while still in the service.
Inhofe also has worked to strengthen military installations in the United States and around the world. His support has helped Oklahoma’s installations weather base closure rounds in the past, with the state’s installations each experiencing job growth to date.
For his important leadership role in supporting active-duty service members, veterans and their families, and strengthening America’s defense communities, ADC is awarding Inhofe 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.