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Another View - Barry Conway: Jeanne Shaheen is the choice for this veteran

May 26. 2014 8:46PM

THE MOST IMPORTANT political contest of this election year is right here in New Hampshire, with our U.S. Senate race. The Granite State is no stranger to high-profile political contests and we have a well-developed, frank and deliberate way of judging the candidates. We look at their actions, not just their words.

When it comes to decisive action that puts people first, our Jeanne Shaheen is the best. That is why I was honored to be named to her Veterans Leadership Committee, and am strongly supporting her re-election this fall.

For more than two decades, I served as the Commandant of the New Hampshire State Veterans Home. I first met Jeanne Shaheen during that time, when she was a newly elected state senator. She was the same down-to-earth, no nonsense person then, that she is today. Her common-sense approach has served us well as she was elected our governor, and then as she became our advocate in the U.S. Senate.

She has always understood the importance of looking out for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom. When she became New Hampshire’s governor, I knew that veterans’ affairs and support of the National Guard would always be a top priority.

Of her many achievements in these areas, the one which I am most personally and professionally grateful for is her leadership and efforts in helping us at the Veterans Home to build a 100-person facility to care for our veterans with Alzheimer’s disease. This facility and its services for the veterans residing there is a model of best practice.

As our U.S. senator now, Jeanne Shaheen continues to make a difference for military men and women. While too much of the federal government remains gridlocked in a stalemate of partisan bickering, Jeanne Shaheen has reached across the aisle to get things done. It is the mark of true leadership.

Legislation Jeanne Shaheen sponsored to expand mental health care and prevent suicide for members of the National Guard, Reserve and their families was signed into law in 2009. When funding was threatened, Sen. Shaheen led the successful fight to protect New Hampshire’s groundbreaking Deployment Cycle Support Program. This initiative helps service members, veterans and their families deal with the unique challenges of military life. This year, Jeanne Shaheen led efforts in the Senate to repeal COLA cuts to retirement benefits. She was the first to introduce repeal legislation and supported passage of bipartisan repeal legislation.

And when the federal government was failing to live up to its promise of opening a VA clinic for veterans in Keene, Jeanne Shaheen took on the project, cut through the bureaucracy, and got the clinic opened. Two more clinics are on the way for North Country veterans in Berlin and Colebrook, and are scheduled to open later this year.

We make a sacred compact with our men and women in uniform. As the daughter of a World War II veteran, our Sen. Jeanne Shaheen makes sure our nation honors that commitment every day.

Barry Conway of Hampton, an Air Force veteran, is the former commandant of the New Hampshire State Veterans Home and is chair emeritus of the State Veterans Advisory Committee.

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