U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has received the 2018 Harry S. Truman Award, the highest honor from the National Guard Association of the United States, for his work on behalf of veterans.
The National Guard Association of the United States selected Isakson as this year’s co-recipient of the award for his efforts to introduce and shepherd through Congress the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 to improve veterans’ education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
“I’m honored to be recognized by the dedicated leaders at the National Guard Association of the United States,” said Isakson. “It’s my greatest privilege to serve our veterans as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. We were proud to pass the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act to help our service members transition to civilian life and ensure they have education benefits that meet their needs.”
“The Harry S. Truman Award is our association’s highest honor,” said retired Brigadier General J. Roy Robinson, executive director, National Guard Association of the United States.“Past recipients include presidents, congressional leaders and four-star generals. Their common thread is a significant and enduring contribution to our nation’s defense and security. Senator Johnny Isakson belongs in this distinguished group of patriots.”
“I would like to congratulate Senator Isakson on his selection as this year’s recipient of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) Harry S. Truman Award,” said Major General Joseph Jarrard, Adjutant General of the Georgia Department of Defense. “We are honored to see a Georgia leader recognized with this significant award. Thank you for all you do in being a champion for our Georgia Guardsmen, all service men and women, and veterans’ causes.”
The National Guard Association of the United States has awarded the Harry S. Truman Award for Distinguished Service to civilian and military leaders since 1968. Recipients have made sustained contributions of exceptional and far-reaching magnitude to the defense and security of the United States in a manner worthy of recognition at the national level and include American generals, presidents, senators and representatives.
In recognizing Isakson with this honor, the following citation was read aloud by Robinson during the presentation:
“U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service as a member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Georgia and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He has demonstrated his commitment and resolve to support the National Guard, all branches of the military, their families and our veterans. As a strong advocate for the National Guard, Senator Isakson has led and passed legislation targeting improved educational and quality-of-life benefits for service members and veterans. His efforts on behalf of National Guard members and all service members serve as a testimony to his sense of patriotism and duty. Senator Isakson’s direct support of our national defense combined with his strong advocacy for our veterans has resulted in a stronger nation. His contributions to the National Guard and our nation will benefit service members and veterans for generations to come. His contributions reflect great credit upon himself, the National Guard and the United States of America.”
Isakson shares the 2018 award with Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs’ ranking member, U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 was introduced by Isakson and signed into law on Aug. 16, 2017. The new law makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, veterans who face school closures while enrolled, and surviving family members. The legislation also provides increased resources and authority for educational assistance to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, computer programming and career technical training.
Most significantly, this bill recognizes our country’s need for an agile and adaptable workforce and that American workers need to be lifelong learners. For that purpose, this bill eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill and instead allows them to use their benefits at any time in their professional career.
The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.