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WHAT MONTANANS ARE READING: Veterans Stand with Jon Tester

Campaign News June 25, 2024

John Herrington: Jon is “doing the right things, not just for me as a vet with the VA, but for the people of Montana.”


BILLINGS – On Friday, third-generation dirt farmer and U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced Veterans for Tester, a group of more than 150 Montana veterans campaigning for Jon, with an event in Kalispell. 

During a roundtable discussion at the kick-off event, Montana veterans thanked Jon for his work as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. As John Burgess, a Navy veteran from Somers, said: “You kept your promise to us, and we want to thank you for that. You have our backs.”


Check out the coverage:


NBC Montana: Veteran-Led Campaign Kicks Off

June 21, 2024



The Flathead Beacon: Northwest Montana Veterans Applaud Tester During Kalispell Campaign Stop

By Denali Sagner

June 25, 2024

  • U.S. Sen. Jon Tester gathered with northwest Montana military veterans on Friday afternoon for the launch of “Veterans for Tester,” a group of retired service members supporting the Democratic senator in his 2024 bid for reelection.
  • “I take my instructions from veterans, and I take those ideas and put them into effect,” Tester said, addressing the group of veterans at McGarvey Law in downtown Kalispell.
  • “The group that’s in this room right now, most of them have met with you over the last eight years, or your representatives. You kept your promise to us, and we want to thank you for that. You have our backs,” John Burgess, a Navy veteran from Somers, said.
  • Tester’s tenure in the Senate has been defined by work on veterans issues — a record he highlighted during the campaign stop and one that his campaign has leaned into ahead of a competitive race against Sheehy. The senator is the chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, a position through which he has pushed significant expansions to healthcare programs for veterans.
  • “Everybody in this room knows it’s absolutely critical that you win your Senate seat back against this guy from Minnesota, Sheehy, whatever his name is,” an audience member told Tester.
  • Another veteran said that while Montana has four congressional representatives, Tester is the state’s only “legislator.”
  • “The other guys just say ‘no’ to everything. They don’t do a damn thing for us,” the attendee added.
  • John Herrington, a Navy veteran and former NASA astronaut who now lives in Marion, told the Beacon that Tester is “doing the right things, not just for me as a vet with the VA, but for the people of Montana.”
  • “Nobody lies about getting shot in their arm,” Terry Beezley, an Air Force veteran from Eureka, said, alluding to inconsistent accounts that Sheehy has shared on the campaign trail about a gunshot wound in his arm.
  • “With what Jon’s done with the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and everything, he’s been great,” Beezley added. “Everybody in his office, they’ve helped us out a lot. Not only us personally, but people up in our area.”


Helena Independent Record: Tester rallies support from veterans in Kalispell

By Holly Michels

June 25, 2024

  • Over his three terms in the U.S. Senate, Tester has made veterans issues his main focus and he’s now the chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. In past campaign cycles he’s both highlighted his successes and told vets he’s the one to elect to go back to D.C. to continue working on what people from both sides of the political aisle agree is a dysfunctional VA.
  • Many of the veterans in the room, though, remember when clinics numbered fewer and they thanked Tester for his work to improve access to health care. “You kept your promise to us,” said John Burgess, a Navy vet from Sommers. “You have our backs.”
  • But no matter how they got there, Tester said “You guys and gals signed up to serve the country and you did your job. We also made commitments to you that when you come back, we’re going to have your back. … We ain’t fully there yet, by the way. We’ve still got more to do.”
  • Tester started the session by running through a list of bills he’s passed and some of them written. There’s the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act that creates access to outside-the-box services to help prevent suicide.
  • In 2022 it was the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, better known as the PACT Act, which expands presumptive benefits for toxic-exposed veterans.
  • There’s also the Deborah Sampson Act, which ensures women veterans — who make up less than 10% of the population in Montana — get access to women’s health care. Six years ago, just before his last re-election, former President Donald Trump signed Tester’s MISSION Act, which got rid of the failed Choice Program and created a new community care framework.
  • That legislation, along with other bills that have crossed the finish line in recent years, have direct implications for vets in Montana.
  • Having served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee since his first year in the Senate back in 2007, Tester became its top Democrat in 2017 and now chairs the committee.
  • Asked by a vet Friday what his seniority means, Tester answered by pointing out the state has 12 brand-new clinics, not counting smaller ones added around Montana.
  • “Denis McDonough’s number is in my phone,” Tester said of the VA’s secretary. “If I called him right now, I would almost guarantee before you got done eating supper he’d be calling me back. Not everybody gets that, and the reason is because we’ve got a very close working relationship.”
  • The two don’t always agree, Tester said, like when the VA recently stopped hiring mental health workers. But “I call him up, he answers, he responds and assured me that they’re going to take care of the problem. … We’ll continue to put pressure on them until they do.”