On October 10, the Chamber recognized and honored Senator Lindsey Graham for his unwavering support of our nation’s military through legislation. Graham was honored with the Charleston Metro Chamber Patriot’s Award aboard the USS Yorktown and spoke on his continued efforts to support the Armed Forces through South Carolina legislation.
Patrick Bryant, 2017 Charleston Metro Chamber Chairman of the Board, welcomed Graham to the stage saying,
“Every single day Senator Lindsey Graham tries to make sure the men and women of our Armed Forces are being taken care of. Certainly, he does this as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But as a former member of the military himself, he also does it because Senator Lindsey Graham knows first-hand how important our nation’s defense is.
So our breakfast this morning Senator, is just to simply say thank you for doing that. “
Graham spent more than six years on active duty as an Air Force lawyer. Upon leaving active duty Air Force in 1989, Graham joined the South Carolina Air National Guard where he served until 1995.
During the first Gulf War in the early 90’s, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as Staff Judge Advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region.
In 1995, Graham joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves. During American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Graham served short-term Reserve duties in both countries over congressional breaks and holidays.
In June 2015, Graham retired from the Air Force Reserves at the rank of Colonel, having served his country in uniform for 33 years.
During his time as the only member of the Senate serving in the reserve component of the Armed Forces and after, Graham:
- Led the charge to improve benefits for our Reservists and Guardsmen
- Led the effort to expand health care coverage for members of the Guard and Reserve, also enhanced TRICARE benefits for Guard and Reserve members who have been deployed
- Strongly supported efforts to reduce retirement eligibility age for members of the Reserves
- Led efforts to expand availability of medical and dental services for Reserves to meet standards for deployment
- Led the effort to increase educational assistance to members of the Guard and Reserve
- Co-sponsored legislation to significantly enhance benefits for our returning Wounded Warriors and their caregivers
Bob Ross, Executive Director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs and a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Defense Communities, was also at the event to speak on the region’s recent designation as a Great American Defense Community.