AUSA's 2012 Outstanding Legislators honored: Left to right, Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff; Rep. 'Buck' McKeon, Rep. Adam Smith, and Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., Association president.
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., were honored as the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) 2012 Outstanding Legislators at a ceremony in the Rayburn House Office Building July 25.
McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, received the award based on his long-time and strong support for the Army as a member and now leader of this committee.
In presenting the award, AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., said McKeon “is known as one of the most knowledgeable members on defense issues and is an advocate for a strong national defense to include maintaining military end strength and ensuring that sequestration does not impact the Department of Defense.”
He also noted that McKeon has fought against TRICARE and pharmacy fee increases and supports research and funding for light weight body armor and the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, as well as legislation that enhances the way this nation treats its men and women in uniform and their families.
McKeon also is a strong advocate for veterans and has quarterly meetings with California veteran’s advisory groups.
Through his leadership of the House Armed Services Committee, he ensures our military services remain the best-equipped and most capable force in the world, but always with significant emphasis on the all-important human elements of our national defense – the pay and benefits and quality of life of our service men and women and their families.
Smith was selected for the award based on “his long-time and strong support for the Army,” Association officials said.
Smith has been a member of the House Armed Services Committee for 15 years and has previously served as chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces as well as the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities.
He now serves as the committee’s ranking member.
Sullivan noted that Smith has focused his national security efforts on providing the military services with the resources they need.
He is determined to ensure that our soldiers – active and reserve component -- have the tools that they need while promoting the improvement of efficiencies and the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in the Department of Defense.
Smith has also been one of the strongest advocates for improving benefits for veterans and their families, particularly in the areas of hiring and homelessness.
He has fought for increased funding for rehabilitation and vocational counseling benefits as well as transitional housing for homeless vets.
He also has been a strong supporter of the elimination of the remaining concurrent receipt offsets as well as the SBP/DIC offset for survivors.
After Sullivan presented the framed plaques, both members made brief remarks.
McKeon said that after the last election he said he and Smith wanted to “join together to show people we were going to work and be as bipartisan as ever.
“While we probably disagree on a few things,” he said, “I really appreciate working with Adam.”
Adding, “We have a very good relationship --working hand-in-hand to help the military and veterans.”
He said his granddaughter joined the Army Reserve and he traveled to Fort Jackson. S.C., to see her graduate from basic training.
While there, he was impressed when saw a formation of new recruits marching.
“After 10 years of war, they’re still signing up knowing they’ll have to put their life on the line,” McKeon said.
Smith said, “I’d really like to thank AUSA. [The Association of the United States Army] is a great voice and great advocate for the military.”
He added that AUSA’s positions on defense matters have “a huge impact on my committee.”
Smith praised McKeon by saying, “I could not ask for a better partner to work with.
“I’m deeply, deeply honored by this award.”
Among the more than 100 attendees at the Capitol Hill event were the Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, several members of Congress, House professional staff members and members of The Military Coalition.