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Fleet Reserve Association awards Tester its Distinguished Pinnacle Award

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U.S. Senate — The Fleet Reserve Association awarded U.S. Senator Jon Tester the annual Pinnacle Award for his outstanding leadership and ongoing efforts to support the nation’s veterans and servicemembers as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“It’s an honor to receive the Fleet Reserve Association’s Pinnacle Award, and fight alongside them on behalf of all men and women at sea who swore an oath to protect our country in waters around the world,” said Chairman Tester. “Our work to provide long-overdue health care and benefits to address toxic exposure illnesses is far from over, and I look forward to continuing our efforts in Congress to deliver for our past, present, and future generations of veterans.”

“The Fleet Reserve Association is thankful for Senator Jon Tester’s efforts to provide full benefits to military retirees who have a combat related disability who were forced to retire before 20 years of service due to their injuries through the Major Richard Star Act,” said the Fleet Reserve Association’s National President James Campbell. “Reducing these retirees’ Defense Department benefit because they receive a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefit is an injustice. Our advocates also believe that too many Post 9-11 veterans toxic exposure claims are being denied. That is why our Association supports the Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act—Senator Tester’s landmark legislation to offer Post-9/11 combat veterans, including those suffering from conditions caused by toxic exposures, access to VA health care.”

The Pinnacle Award is the Fleet Reserve Association’s annual recognition of members of Congress who have demonstrated strong leadership for veterans and servicemembers.

As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a Committee member since 2007, Tester has been a tireless advocate for veterans in Montana and across the nation–including toxic-exposed veterans. He has authored, introduced, negotiated, and passed historic laws to provide long-overdue care and benefits to tens of thousands of veterans suffering from conditions related to their toxic exposure. Working with various Veterans Service Organizations and advocates, Tester has championed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, the expansion of benefits and care for those exposed to Agent Orange, and remains dedicated to identifying a path forward for outstanding toxic exposure issues.

 Continuing his legislative push to deliver for all generations of toxic-exposed veterans, Tester recently introduced his Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act to offer Post-9/11 veterans lifesaving access to VA health care. It cleared Committee markup with unanimous support last week. The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act is the first of a three-step approach to expand access to health care for toxic-exposed veterans, establish a new process through which VA will determine future presumptive conditions, and provide overdue benefits to thousands of toxic-exposed veterans who have been long-ignored or forgotten.

 The Senator is also leading the charge to allow veterans to receive concurrent receipt of military and VA disability pay, reintroducing the Major Richard Star Act and Retired Pay Restoration Act earlier this Congress to end the unfair offset of veterans’ earned benefits.

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