Senator Murray vows to be ‘top advocate’ for veterans
When the Washington state Democrat was one of just 23 senators to vote against launching the Iraq war in 2002, she said she’d support U.S. troops “whenever their commander in chief sends them … not only during the conflict but afterward.”
And as a 22-year-old intern in the summer of 1972, Murray spent her days doing physical rehabilitation on just-returned Vietnam veterans in the psychiatric ward of the Seattle veterans’ hospital.
“Then I’d go out in the streets at night and hear the protests,” said Murray, the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran who earned a Purple Heart. “I knew what they were protesting, but the imbalance of it all just really struck me.”
As the new chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Murray is making it clear that she’s on the side of those who fight the wars.
“No matter what war or what conflict, when they come home,” veterans will “have me to be their top advocate in the United States of America,” said Murray, the first woman to head the committee.
Murray said she wanted to speed up claims processing and shorten the lines at VA centers. She wants to end homelessness among veterans and help them find jobs. She said she’ll be calling on businesses to hire more veterans. And she wants to make sure that the federal government doesn’t overlook female veterans, a growing population.
Sullivan said that even though Murray wasn’t a veteran herself, she had “two very special connections” with veterans: her father and her work experience in Seattle. He said she’d been a leader on many issues: female veterans, returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and psychological trauma and suicide among veterans.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Sullivan said. “She has a personal connection – that’s important – and she has subject matter expertise – that’s very important, so there won’t be a learning curve.”