Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/02/2010 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 274 ESTABLISHING PURPLE HEART DAY TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
*+ HB 291 GUARANTEED REVENUE BONDS FOR VETERANS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 292 GRANTS TO DISASTER VICTIMS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
              HB 274-ESTABLISHING PURPLE HEART DAY                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:31:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  274, "An  Act  establishing August  7 as  Purple                                                               
Heart Day."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:32:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERTA  GARDNER, Alaska State  Legislature, thanked                                                               
the  four  other  prime  sponsors  on  the  committee  for  their                                                               
support.  In addition, she pointed  out that there are members of                                                               
the public, including  a Purple Heart recipient,  who are present                                                               
in  support of  the  bill.   She then  introduced  Ellie Sica,  a                                                               
member of her staff.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:33:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELLIE SICA,  Intern, Representative  Berta Gardner,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, speaking  on behalf  of Representative  Gardner, one                                                               
of  the prime  sponsors of  HB 274,   introduced  the bill.   The                                                               
Purple Heart  is awarded to any  member of the U.S.  armed forces                                                               
who is  wounded or killed in  battle, and it has  been awarded to                                                               
approximately 1.7  million service  men and women.   August  7 is                                                               
historically  significant because  on this  day in  1782, General                                                               
George  Washington established  the  Badge of  Military Merit  to                                                               
honor  military enlisted  men and  noncommissioned officers.   In                                                               
1932, the  badge was reinstituted  and renamed the  Purple Heart.                                                               
Other states  currently recognize August  7 as Purple  Heart Day;                                                               
in fact,  the Alaska State  Legislature has  previously supported                                                               
Purple Heart  related legislation  and proclamations such  as the                                                               
Purple Heart Trail  and the governor's proclamation  of August 7,                                                               
2009, as  Purple Heart Day.   Ms. Sica explained that  the intent                                                               
of the proposed  bill is to establish this day  in perpetuity and                                                               
to show  that Alaska honors  its citizens that have  been wounded                                                               
or killed in action.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:35:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN pointed out that  the Badge of Military Merit                                                               
was  established  to  honor   enlisted  men  and  noncommissioned                                                               
officers; however, the Purple Heart  can be awarded to any member                                                               
of the military.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER agreed.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:37:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM  ARMSTRONG, Chief  of  Staff, Alaska  Military  Order of  the                                                               
Purple Heart, informed the committee  that his organization is in                                                               
favor  of the  bill.   He said  he received  the Purple  Heart on                                                               
November  23, 1968.   The  Alaska  Military Order  of the  Purple                                                               
Heart   has  active   chapters  in   Anchorage,  Fairbanks,   the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna Valley,  and Soldotna, and a  chapter will open                                                               
soon in Juneau.  There are  approximately 254 life members of the                                                               
Order  in  Alaska including  two  females.    He noted  that  the                                                               
national   Order  is   the  only   100  percent   combat  veteran                                                               
organization in the country.   Mr. Armstrong related his past and                                                               
present  affiliations  with  other  veterans'  organizations  and                                                               
thanked the  committee members  who are in  support of  the bill.                                                               
He  stated his  organization's  support  for establishing  Purple                                                               
Heart Day in perpetuity in  order to recognize those deserving of                                                               
this award.  He said, "This is  one award that nobody went out in                                                               
search of."   Mr. Armstrong  stressed that  the award began  as a                                                               
medal of  merit that was  changed to  include those wounded  as a                                                               
result  of  hostile  action.    He noted  that  the  majority  of                                                               
awardees receive  the medal  posthumously and  unfortunately, the                                                               
number of awardees is growing.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:41:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN thanked Mr. Armstrong for his service.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ARMSTRONG reviewed  how he  came to  be a  recipient of  the                                                               
Purple Heart.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:45:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director, Office of  Veteran Affairs, Department of                                                               
Military  & Veterans'  Affairs, verified  that Alaska  honors its                                                               
military; in  fact, the passage of  HB 274 would be  one more way                                                               
to show veterans  that Alaska cares about them.   He recalled the                                                               
dedication of  the Purple  Heart Trail in  Alaska and  noted that                                                               
the majority of  the state's Purple Heart  recipients are Vietnam                                                               
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:46:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR WILLIAM ALLEN, Commander, U.  S. Marine Corps, said that he                                                               
had eight encounters with Improvised  Explosive Devices (IEDs) in                                                               
Iraq.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:47:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  described his feelings  when he drove by  the Purple                                                               
Heart Trail sign in Tok.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:47:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR  ALLEN  expressed  his  belief  that,  as  a  Purple  Heart                                                               
recipient,  his reception  in  Alaska was  like  no other  Marine                                                               
community as  he was  welcomed and given  an opportunity  to tell                                                               
his story.   The designation  of this  date does more  than honor                                                               
Purple  Heart  recipients,  but also  recognizes  those  who  may                                                               
return  with  injuries suffered  due  to  training and  noncombat                                                               
injuries, or from injuries that  remain internalized.  He advised                                                               
that  suffering  also  extends  beyond  the  service  member  and                                                               
affects  family  members,  who are  the  "home  front  warriors."                                                               
Major Allen  concluded that the bill  is a symbol for  the heroic                                                               
young men  and women who  have served  and have been  injured, as                                                               
well as those with lesser injuries,  and the families at home who                                                               
suffer the "injuries of absence."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:49:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS thanked  Major Allen  for his  service and                                                               
his  work done  on behalf  of veterans,  reservists, and  service                                                               
members on active duty.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:50:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN  opined the  most important  aspect of  the bill  is to                                                               
demonstrate support for the veteran and  his or her family, as do                                                               
the Purple Heart Trail markers.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:52:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved to report  HB 274 out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, HB  274 was  reported from  the House                                                               
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                            

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