The lights rose in the dimly lit auditorium at CPAC on Thursday afternoon, and the camera shot turned from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to the audience.
“At this time, if you are able, I would like to ask all of our military men and women to please rise and allow us to show our deep gratitude and appreciation,” Ernst had just said.
Across the room some three dozen veterans rose, and applause broke out.
“As we gather together for the next few days to celebrate our values, our beliefs, and our great freedom, I encourage all of you to take a moment and reach out, and thank a veteran and their family,” Ernst said, “because they help to protect those rights.”
Ernst commended America’s military for defending the “ideals, values, and freedoms that make this the greatest nation in the history of mankind.”
The newly elected senator has served in the military and is married to a retired command sergeant major.
“For more than 20 years, I had the great privilege of serving my state and my country while working alongside some of our finest soldiers,” Ernst explained. “Today I serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, and I’ve been privileged to have commanded many levels from company to battalion.”
Ernst served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her unit was tasked with running convoys throughout Kuwait and Southern Iraq.
“Because of the fearless men and women like these...I will always remain optimistic about the bright future of America.”
These experiences have made Ernst a fitting addition to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she now sits.
“We are already working on a wide range of issues, including threats from ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and others who are being radicalized by them. Congress must hold President Obama accountable to ensure that he and his administration finally develop a cohesive and strong strategy to confront these and the many other threats that we face.”
The nation must do everything possible to give veterans the quality care they were promised and deserve, Ernst stated.