Today I conclude my statewide military tour by meeting with the 119th Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard - known as the Happy Hooligans - stationed in Fargo and with the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber’s Military Advisory Committee. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, this is part of an effort to learn how to best support North Dakota’s military community in my new role.

Just last month, the Happy Hooligans received their 20th Air Force Outstanding Unit award. No unit has ever won more Outstanding Unit awards than the Happy Hooligans, and those of us who follow their work aren’t surprised. Throughout the years, they have served in times of crisis- like 9/11- and times of war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They put their lives on the line, and because of their outstanding service to our country, they are repeatedly recognized. The Outstanding Unit award is given to numbered units of the Active Duty Air Force, Air National Guard, and U.S. Air Force Reserve who distinguish themselves by exceptional meritorious service or outstanding achievement. No group exemplifies these traits quite like the Happy Hooligans. Freedom-loving people around the world are grateful to these service members from Fargo for making the defense of liberty a habit.

As North Dakota’s Adjutant General Al Dohrmann recently said, “The Happy Hooligans have a history, a culture, an attitude and a habit of excellence.” Hearing directly from this excellent unit will help me learn how to best serve them and all Air Force and National Guard units.

Accessibility is essential to my service as your senator. This tour presents an opportunity to hear about problems and solutions from constituents and those affected by the decisions Washington makes. This is especially important for our state’s military community.

North Dakota’s military has long been a foundational aspect of our state. Both founded in 1957, the legacy of Grand Forks and Minot Air Force bases is a proud one. The North Dakota Army and Air Guard are also critical components to the defense of our state and nation. Our state is known for leading the way in innovation and national security solutions. My goal is to support, bolster, and grow North Dakota’s military community.

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Beyond North Dakota, enhancing the United States’ military force—the most powerful on earth—is a key priority of mine. Our armed forces are a global power for good, and consist of the finest men and women our country has to offer. Every day they selflessly volunteer to put their lives on the line to maintain our freedoms. We owe them our thanks; but even more importantly, we owe them the support, equipment, and training they need to accomplish their missions. This week’s tour is one of my many efforts to learn how to do that best.