Since entering office seven years ago, Montana Sen. Jon Tester has been a champion of his state’s defense facilities and a valuable ally of the Montana Defense Alliance.
When the Montana Air National Guard faced the prospect of losing its F-15 fighter mission, Tester led the state’s campaign to overturn the plan. While the fight was unsuccessful, the senator then focused the state’s effort on identifying a replacement mission to preserve the jobs that otherwise would be eliminated. Tester brought together state and Air National Guard leaders to work with Air Force officials in Washington to consider potential alternatives.
The Air Force’s decision to award the Great Falls base a C-130H transport aircraft mission was the perfect solution for Montana as it provided a much-needed capacity to provide relief during natural disasters. The new mission also is providing hundreds of jobs for the area.
Similarly, Tester has been a strong proponent of the ICBM mission at Malmstrom Air Force Base. And as a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, he has fought to improve employment opportunities for veterans.
With fellow Montana Sen. Max Baucus, he introduced the Veterans Employment Transition Act last year. The measure was intended to increase opportunities for veterans to transfer military skills into the civilian workforce, support small businesses owned by disabled veterans and make it easier for businesses to get tax credits for hiring recently separated service members. The bill also holds the government accountable for delivering results to veterans by requiring the Veterans Affairs and Labor departments to coordinate their veterans employment programs.
For his longstanding support to preserve, sustain and expand military missions in Montana as well as for his efforts to bolster veterans’ services, ADC selected Tester to receive its Congressional Leadership Award. Award winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill this week during the Defense Communities National Summit.