West Virginia veterans are losing their champion in the Senate. Jay Rockefeller announced Friday he will not seek a 6th term in office.
Keith Gwinn, the Secretary of the Department of Veteran’s Assistance, says the senior senator has always looked out for vets, not just here in West Virginia, but all across the country.
“He will be missed. He has championed [veteran's] causes his whole career,” says Gwinn.” He’s always kept veterans his top priority.”
Rockefeller is a longtime member of the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. Gwinn says without Rockefeller’s connections, the state would not have many of the veteran’s facilities we see across the state today.
“He was instrumental in getting the veteran’s nursing facility in Clarksburg along with the state veterans cemetery in Institute,” according to Gwinn.
Another major project Rockefeller has championed for West Virginia veterans is health care.
“West Virginia is quite a rural area and he’s brought a lot of Community Based Outreach Clinics,” says Gwinn. “We have all these clinics to help veterans in rural areas and that was on behalf of him.”
Rockefeller said back in 2010, “I have fought my entire career to make sure our veterans have accessible clinics across the state, recognizing that every dollar spent on travel really matters, especially in these tough economic times.”
Gwinn counts Rockefeller as a personal friend and recalls a special event that the Senator presided over.
“My last reenlistment in the Navy I asked him to do it for me. He agreed to that. He invited me to Washington, D.C. along with my officer and he swore me in for the last time in the Navy in his office. I was very proud of that.”
Rockefeller’s current term runs through 2014.