Members questioncost savings as Army awaits task force recommendations

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) and the bipartisan delegation that represents the Rock Island Arsenal made clear to General Ann Dunwoody, the Commanding General of the Army Materiel Command, that any proposal to close or relocate Rock Island Arsenal's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC) would be met with strong resistance in Congress. In a meeting in Washington, Dunwoody reassured the Iowa and Illinois delegation that the Army currently has no plans to close the JMTC, but could not disclose the work of an internal task force that was rumored to have been considering JMTC closure as a cost-savings measure.

Members of Congress in today's meeting - U.S. Representatives Bruce Braley (D-IA-01), Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17), and Dave Loebsack (D-IA-02), U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and representatives from Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)'s office - vowed to continue working with General Dunwoody and the Army to secure the long-term future of JMTC at Rock Island Arsenal.

"The Rock Island Arsenal is crucial to the Quad City economy," said Braley. "There are 1,700 jobs on the line at this facility and none of us are willing to jeopardize them. I'm confident that we made that clear to General Dunwoody, and I was reassured by her praise for the Arsenal and its workers. I will continue to monitor this process and work to make sure that we find ways to save and cut back in places where it makes sense ? but not at this crucial facility."

"General Dunwoody understands this delegation's commitment to defending the livelihood of the highly skilled men and women who make up the Rock Island Arsenal," said Durbin.  "It is important that every level of government work to find savings and efficiencies within system, but I firmly believe that closing or relocating the JMTC would be the wrong way to do it.  I am glad we were alerted to this task force early in the process so that we can continue to keep a close eye on it as it moves forward."

"As the Defense Department's only integrated metal manufacturer, the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center at the Rock Island Arsenal is essential to American troops abroad and to the Quad Cities community," Senator Kirk said.  "Given the importance of the JMTC to arms and armor production, as well as to veteran employment, I firmly believe in defending its position and purpose."

"We made clear to General Dunwoody that any proposal to move the work that is currently so expertly done at the Rock Island Arsenal JMTC to other facilities would contribute nothing to the Army's savings target, but would undermine the unique skills and capabilities that have served our war fighters.  We'll have to keep an eye on this task force, but I was pleased to hear the General affirm that the Rock Island Arsenal is a national treasure and express support for our delegation's efforts to ensure more stable workload in the future," Grassley said.

"Though today's meeting was productive, it is of utmost important that we as a delegation remain vigilant as the task force continues its work," Schilling said. "The Rock Island Arsenal is a national treasure and is of huge economic importance to the Quad Cities. I will continue working to ensure that work or functions at the JMTC and the Rock Island Arsenal are neither reduced nor eliminated as thisprocess continues."

"This was an important opportunity to sit down with General Dunwoody and the Arsenal delegation todiscuss the Army Material Command's review and reiterate that we will fight any efforts to close or reduce work at the JMTC or RIA to ensure jobs stay in the Quad Cities," said Loebsack. "I also believe it was critical that we discussed the need to develop a proactive strategy to keep work at the Arsenal as thedrawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.  The good jobs, economic development and contributions to our national security provided by the Arsenal and its workforce must be protected."

General Dunwoody wastasked by Army Secretary John McHugh to find savings and efficiencies within the Army Materiel Command as part of an Army-wide review to find $3 billion in savings.  A task force within the Army Materiel Command was asked to perform a review and report its findings to General Dunwoody, likely by the end of the summer.

According to the members in today's meeting, it would be difficult to find savings by closing JMTC as the facility is funded through the Army's Working Capital Fund which derives most of its funding from sales revenue on its contracts, and not through regular congressional appropriations.  The members argued that the cost of moving or replicating the many unique capabilities at Rock Island Arsenal would be extensive.

The Rock Island Arsenal JMTC is a one-of-a-kind U.S. Army facility which manufactures critical equipment for our troops around the world. The more than 1,700 highly-skilled individuals - at least half of whom are veterans - employed at JMTC specialize in manufacturing artillery, armor, small arms, and mobile maintenance kits for use on the front lines. The JMTC, perhaps best known for howitzer production, operates the Army's only foundry and since 2003 has produced half of all armor for Army tactical wheeled vehicles. Rock Island Arsenal, the region's largest employer with a 8,600-person workforce anchored by the JMTC, injects $1.3 billion dollars directly into the local economy each year.

In May, after learning that an internal task force at the Army Materiel Command was considering relocating Rock Island Arsenal's JMTC, the bipartisan group of seven lawmakers from both the Illinois and Iowa Congressional Delegations called for a meeting with McHugh, as soon as possible to discuss their concerns about the cost associated with conducting such a move as well as the impact it would have on the Rock Island Arsenal.  A few weeks later, the members received assurances from McHugh that the Army currently has no plans to close the JMTC.  Today's meeting was in response to a similar request sent to General Dunwoody in May.


ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, ILL. - First Army will uncase its organizational colors Thursday, July 21 at 9 a.m. at First Army headquarters (Bldg. 68) signifying the official arrival of the unit here.

First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse L. Andrews Jr., will uncase the unit's colors in a time-honored ceremony attended by invited VIPs and guests from the Arsenal and the Quad-Cities community.

First Army's long-line of "firsts" includes the first Americans into Paris, the first to cross the Siegfried Line and first to reach the Rhine River in Germany during World War II.

Another "first" will take place on Friday, July 22, at 6:30 a.m., when Lt. Gen. Bednarek and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrews lead First Army Soldiers and Civilian employees on a 2.5 mile organizational run through the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center. No other unit at the Arsenal has ever conducted a run of this type.

The run will start and end at Memorial Field, near the southeast corner of Rodman Ave. and East Street.

Media wishing to attend should contact First Army Public Affairs Media Relations, Rob Saxon at 309.782.9647 or robert.d.saxon2.civ@mail.mil ; or FA Director, Public Affairs, Lt. Col. Mike Kenfield 309.782.9200 or Michael.w.kenfield.mil@mail.mil.


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Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released a statement after participating in a joint-chamber forum with Holly Petraeus on alleged mortgage-related violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Holly Petraeus serves as the Director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Following the forum, Rep. Braley said:

"More and more, it seems our veterans are returning from combat only to face new challenges here at home. Whether it's an injury or a financial crisis caused by long deployments and time off from their civilian jobs, our veterans deserve to know that we're standing up for them. This forum identified serious problems and issues with the way banks and lending institutions currently treat our soldiers and their families - and we need to take action to protect them from this abuse. That's why I introduced the Protecting Veterans' Homes Act earlier this year. My bill will give our soldiers enough time to get back on their feet and get their finances in order before being kicked out of their homes. This is the least we can do for the brave men and women who serve this country."

In May, Rep. Braley introduced the Protecting Veterans' Homes Act to protect veterans from being foreclosed upon by big banks. The bill would give returning soldiers time to get their finances in order after long deployments. Currently, similar protections for veterans are set to expire in December of 2012. Rep. Braley's bill would make these protections permanent and would extend the grace period from nine months to a full year for veterans returning from deployments.


Washington, DC -- Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after officials reported the death of Iowa National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Pasker of Cedar Rapids:

"My heart goes out to Terryl's family and friends. This is a tragedy and a difficult time for all Iowans and the entire National Guard family. Terryl, and all the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation, are in my thoughts and prayers at this time."


Thursday, July 14th at 6:00 p.m.

2500 Grant Street, Bettendorf, Iowa

Iowa Masonic Health Facilities

Community Center

(at top of the hill)

Are you a war-time veteran or widow of a war-time veteran? You may be eligible to receive a monthly Veteran's benefit.

David Woods, from the Office of Veteran's Affairs in Davenport, has graciously offered to lead this FREE, public meeting to inform Veterans of benefits that may be currently available to them, which may include rental assistance. Veterans may qualify for various benefit programs such as Aid & Attendance Benefits, Housebound Status Benefits, and others. David is also available to meet on an individual basis (via appointment) to assist veterans and their spouses in applying for veterans benefits. Attend this seminar to gather information that may assist you in obtaining the benefits that all Veterans deserve.

Public welcome. Refreshments will be served.

RSVP to Amy Wiyrick at 359-9171, Monday-Friday 8-4.


Sponsored by Masonic Village & Iowa Masonic Health Facilities

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement on President Obama's change to the condolence letter policy for soldiers who commit suicide:

"I strongly support the President's change of the condolence letter policy, and I share his commitment to removing the stigma associated with the unseen wounds of war. I'll continue to fight for expanded access to mental health care for all current members of our armed services and the brave veterans who served this country."


In May, Hardee's launched its Stars for Troops in-store fundraiser benefiting Homes for Our Troops and USA Cares. Thanks to your readers' generous donations, we're happy to announce more than $1 million raised (by CKE Restaurants - Carl's Jr. and Hardee's) to assist military families and veterans.

To participate, restaurant guests donated $1 in support of military charities. For each $1 donation, guests received a commemorative "Stars for Troops" cut out to personalize and place on display in the restaurant; in addition, they received restaurant coupons valued at more than $10 to use toward future purchases.

More information about Stars for Troops is available here: http://pitch.pe/155971 Thanks again to you and your readers for the support - and for making this fundraiser a success. I look forward to sharing additional news with you about Hardee's future military fundraising efforts.

Bills Prevent Winter Heat Shutoff, Increase Driver's License Renewal Period; Help Injured Veterans Access Needed Services

CHICAGO - July 3, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed three bills to provide more protections for Illinois' servicemembers and help injured Veterans get the services they need. Together, the bills will make Illinois a more supportive place to live for servicemembers and veterans.

"On the day before we celebrate our democracy, we want to remember and protect our heroic men and women who answered the call to service," said Governor Quinn. "When our Veterans and servicemembers return to their homes in Illinois, it is our duty to give them the thanks and respect they deserve."

These bills prevent Illinois utilities from cutting off heat to Veterans and servicemembers during the winter months; extend the driver's license renewal time for servicemembers returning from overseas or out-of state; and create a fund to support public service announcements to increase awareness of Veterans' programs.

Sponsored by Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) and Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin), House Bill 1260 prohibits utilities from cutting off heat to Veterans and Servicemembers during the winter months. Under the new law, gas and electric utility companies are prevented from cutting off gas or electricity to Veterans and servicemember's homes from Dec. 1 through March 31 of the following year.

Many of Illinois' men and women in uniform who serve out-of-state or overseas find it difficult to renew their driver's license within the time required under current law. Sponsored by Rep. Eddie Jackson (D-East St. Louis) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), House Bill 3331 extends the expiration of a servicemember's driver's license to 120 days upon their return to Illinois. Current law only allows for a 90 day deferral.

House Bill 3275 creates a fund to support public service announcements to inform Illinois' Veterans and servicemembers of the benefits and services available for treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The fund will be administered by the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, which will collect private gifts, donations and charitable contributions to support the fund. The new law was sponsored by Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

"As a veteran of the Illinois Army National Guard, there are few things more important than helping our men and women in uniform," said Rep. Barickman, who sponsored HB 3275. "I'm proud of this law, which allows people to donate private dollars to promote services available to men and women injured in combat."

The three new laws take effect Jan. 1, 2012.


Sgt. 1st Class Evadne Benson, center, First Army Equal Opportunity Advisor, meets with two squads of Military Explorers, from Post 9044 in Davenport, Iowa, and Post 120 from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. The cadets, ranging from 11 to 21 years of age, are learning about the military ways of life prior to their potential future affiliation with the service of their choosing. The "Nighthawk" and "Green Dragon" squads took a guided tour of the new First Army headquarters building on Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. The group is conducting a four-day Explorer Challenge on "The Rock", consisting of military training and orientation events.   (Photo by Master Sgt. Danette Rodesky-Flores, First Army Public Affairs)

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement on President Obama's Afghanistan speech:

"Last night, the President laid out his vision for withdrawal from Afghanistan. I don't agree with his plan. It's time for our troops to start coming home now - and to be out of Afghanistan fully by the end of this year. Afghan security forces must be able stand up and take control of their country, Bin Laden is gone and America simply can't afford this war anymore. We've spent a decade in Afghanistan, and our country has paid tremendous costs: the lives of our young men and women, the sacrifice of our military families and the crippling budget deficits that will burden our children and grandchildren. It's time for our brave troops to come home."