This time of year has me thinking about seasons, change, and inspirational leaders. After a fun and rewarding summer of camps, I've had the good fortune to meet a variety of important public officials in recent weeks.
On August 20th, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) attended an Operation Purple Camp with us in Poulsbo, Washington. Senator Murray is the first woman to serve on the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee and an advocate for veterans, military families, children and the environment. Senator Murray's visit was a great opportunity to highlight the healing power of nature and demonstrate how Operation Purple camps provide military children with a much needed respite from the daily stresses of military life. Click here to read the Kitsap Sun article about the day.
Last week, I attended the NMFA's Congressional Reception to honor the recipients of the 2008 Support of Military Families Award. Awards were presented to outstanding policy makers and public servants who have shown exceptional support of military families. This year’s recipients were: The Honorable Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense; Ms. Leslye Arsht, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; Representative Ike Skelton (D-MO, 4th), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA, 4th); and Ms. Debra Wada, professional staff member of the House Armed Services Committee. Over 450 people attended the event to show their appreciation for the admirable work the NMFA and these awardees are doing on behalf of military families.
On Monday, wild Kansas sunflowers were blooming all over as we drove into Topeka to meet with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Ted Hayden, the Fort Riley ASYMCA Executive Director, Mrs. Annette Wiggins, wife of Fort Riley Commanding General Perry Wiggins, and Oliver Hunter IV, Director of Mission Support Element for the 1st Division and I met with Governor Sebelius to discuss the Sierra Club's partnership with the ASYMCA connecting military families with the healing powers of our natural heritage. Through the ASYMCA's partnership with the Kansas National Guard and Reserves we were able to help ensure that every dependent child of a Kansas National Guard or Reserve member was able to attend a week of outdoor summer camp. It was a very positive meeting with great energy and excitement about our partnership and future endeavors. The Sierra Club is grateful to Governor Sebelius for her support of military families and for her strong leadership on clean, alternative energy.
It's a beautiful time of year, so be sure to get out and enjoy it!