D-Minnesota, National Guard
Bio: The 115th Congress marks Congressman Tim Walz’s sixth term of service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Proudly serving the people of Minnesota’s First Congressional District, which spans clear across southern Minnesota from the borders of South Dakota to Wisconsin, Rep. Walz is a member of the Agriculture Committee, Armed Services Committee, and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. As Chair of the Special Operations Forces Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Invisible Wounds Caucus, Veterans Jobs Caucus, National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, and United Service Organizations (USO) Caucus, Walz is committed to giving southern Minnesotans, and service members and veterans across the nation, a voice in Washington.
In addition to serving in the National Guard prior to his election to the House, Congressman Walz was a high school geography teacher and football coach at Mankato West High School in Mankato, MN, where he continues to live today with his wife Gwen and their two children.
Military Bio: The highest-ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress, Rep. Walz enlisted in the Army National Guard at the age of 17 and retired 24 years later as Command Sergeant Major. He spent the majority of his military career as a Field Artilleryman and holds the distinction of The Honorable Order of Saint Barbara. While a Guardsman, Walz mobilized with his unit in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served his deployment in Italy.
Honoring America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act
After 8 years of fighting to honor Guard and Reserve retirees with the recognition they deserve, Congressman Walz’s Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act became law on December 16, 2016. Signed into law through the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016, the provision grants full “veteran” status to Guard and Reserve component members who served at least 20 years but have not been called up for federal active duty.
Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (Clay Hunt SAV) Act
First introduced by Rep. Walz and former Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller (R-FL) to improve mental health care for veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war back at home, the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV Act was signed into law on February 12, 2015. Named in honor of the late Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran and suicide prevention advocate Clay Hunt, this law increases access to mental health care and improves quality of care; increases the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to administer mental health services while boosting accountability at the VA; and develops a community support system pilot program to assist veterans in accessing VA mental health care.
Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act
The Walz-sponsored Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act was signed into law on August 6, 2012 to ensure the VA sets the goal of maximizing the independence and quality of life of veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), as well as continuing to support their behavioral and mental health capabilities. Specifically, it requires the VA evaluate a comprehensive long-term care program for veterans with TBIs.
Veteran Skills to Jobs Act
Signed into law on July 13, 2012, the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act was sponsored by Congressman Walz and Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) to streamline federal certification and licensing for military skills. By directing the head of each U.S. agency to treat relevant military training as sufficient for federal occupational certifications or licenses, the Act allows veterans to use their military skills and training towards federal jobs at home. Not only does it save American taxpayers money; in many cases, military training meets or exceeds the federal requirements.
Walz-Championed Legislation in the 114th Congress
Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act
In 2015, Rep. Walz re-introduced the Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act with Senator Al Franken (D-MN), a bipartisan bill aimed at tackling the VA benefit-claims backlog. The product of collaboration with veterans and groups representing them at the local, state and national level, the legislation allows local doctors to conduct disability medical examinations for veterans. Currently, veterans are required visit a VA facility for this examination, which is a contributing factor to why hundreds of thousands veterans, many living rural communities, are still in the VA benefits backlog today. This bill goes a long way to cut through bureaucratic red tape to help veterans get the benefits and care they need, earned and deserve.
Agent Orange Extension Act
Walz introduced the Agent Orange Extension Act in 2015 to ensure that Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical sprayed on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War, receive just compensation and care. Specifically, the bill extends the VA’s original presumption of service connection deadline for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicides including Agent Orange, as was established in the Agent Orange Act (AOA) of 1991 by two years. By making it possible for the VA to add any new diseases to its list of presumptive service connected diseases that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) finds to have a positive association to Agent Orange exposure, the Extension Act will fulfill the original intent of AOA.