More than two decades of support to the National Guard was honored during the 141st NGAUS General Conference & Exhibition when Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. was presented with the Harry S. Truman Award.
The award is the association’s highest honor. Hoeven was nominated by the North Dakota National Guard in recognition of his efforts, both as governor and U.S. senator, in support of Guardsman.
Maj. Gen. Alan S. Dohrmann, the state’s adjutant general, said Hoeven has sponsored legislation to improve the professionalism of the force, the modernization of the U.S. military and the security of the country.
Dohrmann said the senator has had sustained contributions of exceptional and far-reaching magnitude to the defense and security of the nation.
“If you were going to pick what a perfect senator for your state would look like, you’d want somebody that maybe grew up next to an active duty Air Force base, say in Minot, North Dakota; who married a woman whose father was in the Air Force, spent 10 years as governor of a state where he saw the National Guard in action each and every day,” the general said. “A governor who in those 10 years personally shook the hand of every soldier and airman who left the state to go to war and every airman and soldier who came home from war to thank them for what they did for their nation.”
“And when your soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice, as 12 did during Gov. Hoeven’s time, you’d want a governor that was at every one of those funerals. And Gov. Hoeven was at every one of those funerals,” Dohrmann added. “And if he was lucky enough to get elected to the Senate, you’d want him on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee… All those checks for the perfect senator.”
Hoeven, who looked back fondly on past interactions with the Guard, said he was deeply appreciative, not only for the honor, but also for what the Guard does, day in and day out.
“Our country started with the minuteman answering the call and ever since then you’ve been answering the call,” he said. “You’re indispensable… We can’t do without you. You’re absolutely vital to our country. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It can be an emergency here at home, fire, flood, tornado, you name it. Or it can be answering the call to put your life on the line, as many of you have.”
Hoeven said the Guard has played an incredible role in our nation’s defense, shouldering much of the burden of the War on Terror. He said he’s fighting for legislation that would provide parity for some benefits to Guardsman when compared to what active component troops receive.
One such bill is the Montgomery GI Bill Parity Act (S.1136), which would allow reserve component personnel to use their GI Bill benefits concurrently with federal tuition assistance programs to fund their education.
Currently, active troops can use both benefits, while Guardsmen can’t.
The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, but Hoeven urged those at the conference to reach out to their elected officials to put in a good word on the bill.
In addition to Hoeven, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was also selected to receive the Truman Award. Manchin will be honored at a later date in Washington, D.C.
Established by the association’s then-executive council in 1968, recipients have made sustained contributions to the defense and security of the United States. Previous recipients include presidents, members of Congress, cabinet-level secretaries and senior military officers.
The complete 2019 individual award list is available at www.ngaus.org/about-ngaus/awards.