News Releases

Murray Sends Letter to President Bush in Advance of Trip to Fort Lewis

Jun 18 2004

Shares Issues Raised by Soldiers During Her Recent Meetings

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Senator Patty Murray sent a letter to President Bush in advance of his trip to Fort Lewis today, calling on him to join her in efforts to ensure our soldiers have what they need to continue their outstanding service to our country. Unable to join the President due to Senate work on the Department of Defense Authorization bill, Murray welcomed the President to Washington state and shared with him some of the issues she's heard in her many visits to Fort Lewis in recent months.

The text of the letter follows:

June 17, 2004

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20501

Dear Mr. President:

I first want to welcome you to our beautiful state. There's much to see and much to do, and I hope you take the time to talk with citizens wherever you go about the issues we as a state face today.

In addition, I want to thank you for inviting me to join you at Fort Lewis. As you know, we're working hard in the Senate to complete Defense legislation that will ensure those very troops you are addressing have the tools they need, and votes in Washington will prevent me from joining you and our troops at Fort Lewis.

I have traveled to Fort Lewis several times in recent months, and I'm sure you will hear many of the same concerns I have during your visit. They face many challenges and hardships. From health care to child care to education to force protection, our Guard and Reserve, in particular, face an uphill battle in their efforts to be volunteer citizen soldiers.

That's why I'm working here in the Senate on their behalf. We've had several successes. Today the Senate agreed to my amendment calling for child care for the families of our activated Guard and Reservists. That follows recent successful efforts to expand access to health care, reimburse soldiers for equipment costs and provide tax credits to employers who continue to pay these hard-working men and women volunteering for service.

But there's much more we can do. With your help and leadership, we can pass my Guard and Reserve Benefit package in total and ensure that these soldiers and their families, sharing equal burden with full-time soldiers, sacrificing overseas every day, get the support the need.

We can ensure them a quality education. We can ensure them quality retirement benefits. And we can ensure them improved family assistance. We're asking more and more of them every day – this is the least we can do to honor their service.

And let us not forget the thousands of full time soldiers from Washington state fighting overseas today. They and their families need our help and support too. After months of pushing from myself and others, I'm happy to read just last week that they now finally have the body armor they need to stay safe, but we must never again fail in our commitment to provide the best military in the world with all the resources and equipment they need to stay safe. There is more we can do to keep them safe – many of our Humvees and STRYKER vehicles lack the armor they need to fully protect our soldiers. We need to do more.

So, Mr. President, I hope you will take your time at Fort Lewis to listen. And when you return to Washington, D.C., I hope that we can work together in the best interests of our troops, our security and our country.


U.S. Senator Patty Murray