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Sen. Joni Ernst held a phone conversation with Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, supporters and members of the media Wednesday evening.
The senators began the discussion with the topic of the military, as both senators are veterans who said they feel as if the country should be doing more to repay soldiers for their sacrifices.
“I know I can speak for Senator Graham by saying one of our top priorities is supporting the brave men and women who defend our nation,” said Ernst. “The men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform have made the commitment to keep our country safe, and many have paid a pretty stiff price to do so, so when they return from service, we have to make the same committment to them.”
Graham, who was in the Air Force for 33 years, praised Ernst for her service as the leader of a transportation company in Iraq.
“It’s one of the most things you can do, is get on the roads in Iraq,” said Graham. “She was a good commander who put her troops before herself.”
Ernst said she witnessed first-hand the sacrifices made by soldiers, and that while some wounds and scars are visible, the mental anguish a soldier may suffer needs to be given more attention.
“Tragically, we do lose about 16 veterans to suicide every single day,” said Ernst. “One of the most challenging issues that many of them face is post-traumatic stress disorder. Not all wounds can be seen, and sometimes those invisible wounds take a heck of a lot more to undo.”
Ernst said she has worked to expand mental health services for veterans, across Iowa and the United States as whole.
“Veterans should not have to wait weeks and weeks to see somebody,” said Ernst. “We must make sure our veterans have the support they need.”
Graham said that Congress should have more representatives with military background, especially if the nation wishes to end the war in the Middle East.
“This war has been going on forever, and people want it to be over,” said Graham. “Well, it’s not over yet, and we need folks up here who understand what it’s like to serve in a warzone and what it’s like to sacrifice.”
On the topic of war, Graham brings up the current ‘war’ against COVID-19, highlighting Ernst’s accomplishments and contributions to legislation meant to help Americans struggling during the pandemic.
“Joni was one of the most indespensable people for the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept small businesses from going under,” said Graham. “Every time I turn around, she’s involved with something that’s hard, and trying to find a way to get the ‘Yes.’”
Graham said Ernst is consistently working on legislation to ‘go after’ China, something he said is a benefit to the American people.
“Tomorrow, we are going to vote on her bill to allow the public to sue the Communist Chinese party for the damages done to families and businesses from Coronavirus,” said Graham.