April 01, 2013

Kaine Tours Defense Installations, Meets with Military Families in Hampton Roads

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, toured military bases in Hampton and Virginia Beach today where he discussed the importance of budget certainty for the defense community. In the afternoon, Kaine met with military families in Norfolk to discuss steps to increase support for servicemembers and their families as well as ease the transition from active duty to civilian life and employment.

Kaine began the day with a visit to Langley Air Force Base where he toured the facilities and met with commanding officers. Kaine discussed recent budget progress including recent passage of an appropriations bill that provides some relief for defense and military construction through the remainder of the fiscal year, but also learned more about the ongoing impact of sequester cuts on the base.

"Many of the National Guard mechanics at Langley who maintain F-22 aircraft are being furloughed as a result of the sequester, meaning the job of maintaining a very important piece of aviation and keeping us safe is in jeopardy," said Kaine. "So we can't give up - I'm not going to give up on them. I'm proud of the budget we just passed that would eliminate the blunt, across the board sequester cuts, make them targeted, and enable us to maintain this aircraft at a tempo that's good for our nation, and I look forward to continuing to try to find the right solutions to sequester challenges."

Following the tour, Kaine participated in a roundtable in Norfolk with more than 20 members of the Hampton Roads Chapter of Blue Star Families to discuss the importance of supporting our servicemembers and their families. Throughout the discussion, Kaine focused on the need to improve continuing care for veterans and address the disproportionately high rate of unemployment among post-9/11 veterans. Kaine also discussed the need to improve and streamline the credentialing process to help servicemembers better apply skills earned during service to secure employment, easing their transition to civilian life.

"Hearing your perspective and the challenges you face is extremely valuable for me so I can take your stories back with me," Kaine told the Blue Star Families veterans and military families in attendance. "From employment and transition issues, to unacceptable delays in VA services, budget uncertainty causes real impact in your lives. I don't know how anyone who has the chance to meet with you could ever make the mistake of thinking a budget is just numbers on a page." 

Kaine concluded the afternoon at the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach where he visited the commissary, toured the facilities, and met with servicemembers. During the visit, Kaine spoke with contractors as well as military and civilian employees about the issues impacting their daily lives. As a member of the Personnel Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, Kaine is acutely aware of the impact budget uncertainty and political gimmickry have on recruitment, training, and the ability of our servicemembers and civilian employees to have certainty about their futures. 

"At Naval Air Station Oceana I talked with commissary employees facing significant furloughs and fighter jet aviators whose lives were thrown topsy turvy by the delayed deployment of USS Truman," Kaine said. "There's no reason we should put this kind of uncertainty into the lives of our servicemembers and those who support them."

Since taking office, Kaine has visited defense installations across Virginia including Fort Belvoir, Naval Station Norfolk, the National Guard Armory in Staunton, Marine Base Quantico, and the Pentagon. Throughout this week he will make additional stops across the Commonwealth, including stops in Richmond and Disputanta tomorrow.