June 15, 2019

Van Hollen Pushes to Honor Maryland Veterans in NDAA

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced that he has filed two amendments to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to support Maryland’s veterans and ensure their service is appropriately honored.

“For far too long, many of our veterans that served in WWI and WWII have not received proper recognition – despite their heroic actions – because of the color of their skin. I’m proud to work on addressing this injustice, and I urge my colleagues to support these amendments to honor the actions of our veterans,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

The first amendment would add his World War I Valor Medals Review Act to the NDAA. Hundreds of thousands of minority Veterans fought for their country during World War I, and their service was essential to our victory. But for some, their heroism has still not received the recognition it deserves. To address this issue, Senator Van Hollen is working with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to get this legislation passed. It requires the Department of Defense to undertake a review of valor medals awarded to minority Veterans during WWI to determine whether any should receive the Medal of Honor. This review would be conducted in consultation with the WWI Centennial Commission’s Valor Medals Review Task Force, and members of the Task Force spoke in favor of the legislation at the introduction event in Maryland.

In addition to this effort, Senator Van Hollen has filed a second amendment for the honorary promotion of Colonel (Ret.) Charles E. McGee, USAF. Col. McGee – a resident of Bethesda, Md. – served with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, completing 136 combat missions. He completed an additional 100 combat missions in the Korean Conflict and 173 combat missions in the Vietnam War, amassing the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions (409) of any Air Force aviator. Col. McGee completed a distinguished 30-year career in the United States Air Force, serving in numerous leadership and command capacities and becoming the first African American to command a stateside Air Force Wing and Base. The Secretary of the Air Force determined on March 7, 2019 that Col. McGee is qualified for and merits an honorary promotion to Brigadier General. Congress must now enact legislation authorizing the President to issue an honorary promotion. Text of the amendment is available here.