American Ex-POW's Honor Senator Patty Murray

Mar 20 2003

Senator receives Barbed Wire Award, pays tribute to Everett, Wash. Hero

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Today, the American Ex-Prisoners of War awarded Senator Patty Murray with the organization's highest legislative award, the Annual Barbed Wire Award.

Senator Murray has a long history of working fighting for veterans, as the senior Senator from Washington state and a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

"I am honored to stand with our former POW's in their ongoing fight for health care and other benefits earned in sacrifice to our country," Senator Murray said. "To me, this award symbolizes our partnership – and our shared commitment – to honoring those who have served our country so well through circumstances few could imagine or endure. Today is an appropriate day to reaffirm our commitment to those who risk their lives to keep us safe."

Murray has been a longtime champion for veterans. She teamed up with the American Ex-POWs in 2000 to pass legislation to provide honor guards to the funerals of every veteran. Murray has helped pass legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans in preparing their benefits claims, and helped force the V.A. to correct erroneous benefits decisions on veterans' benefits claims.

Recently, Senator Murray introduced S. 517, The Francis W. Agnes POW Benefits Act of 2003, which provides former Prisoners of War with expanded health care coverage for ailments including heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and other ailments that may have been exacerbated as a result of their captivity.

Senator Murray credited Fran Agnes, a POW and former National Commander of the American Ex-POWs, for today's award. Fran Agnes passed away in Washington state on February 9th, 2003. "Fran was a champion for Ex-POW's and the veterans of Washington state. He was a phenomenal resource and provided me with endless support," Senator Murray said. "Washington state will forever be a veterans' state because of leaders like Fran Agnes."

Murray, whose father earned the Purple Heart in World War II, is the first woman to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

She is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and has been honored as Legislator of the Year by The Vietnam Veterans of America.

The award was presented by Mr. Maurice Sharp, of University Place, Washington. Mr. Sharp is the National Commander of the American ex-Prisoners of War and a POW from the Korean conflict.

The American Ex-Prisoners of War organization is a national organization with more than 300 Chapters and State Departments and 30,000 members. According to the organization, there are 42,781 surviving POWs still alive as of January 1, 2002.

Past Barbed Wire Award winners:

1988 Sen. Alan Cranston (CA) 1989 Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery (MS) 1990 Sen. Frank Murkowski (AK) 1991 Rep. Douglas Applegate (OH) 1992 Sen. David Boren (OK) 1993 Rep. Michael Bilirakis (FL) 1994 Sen. Richard Shelby (AL) 1995 Rep. Bob Stimp (AZ) 1996 Sen. Charles Robb (VA) 1997 Rep. Ralph Regula (OH) 1998 Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) 1999 Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH) 2000 Sen. John D. Rockefeller (WV) 2001 Rep. Lane Evans (IL) 2002 no award given 2003 Sen. Patty Murray (WA)