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Thune pitches Vietnam Veterans Day

John Thune

Military veterans of the Vietnam War deserve their own day -- March 29, said U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

He said Wednesday that he plans to introduce a bill officially designating that day as Vietnam Veterans Day.

On March 29, 1973, the last of American combat troops left Vietnam after a controversial conflict that marked a troubled period for the American military.

"South Dakota has a long and proud history of answering the call to serve. We have always punched above our weight when it comes to military service and I am especially mindful of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of our Vietnam War veterans, including 193 South Dakotans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in that conflict," Thune says.

In addition, Thune plans to introduce a resolution noting this year as the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal of combat troops.

"A lot of our vets still deal with the psychological and physical wounds of that war. We owe them a tremendous debt," Thune said.

Drought legislation

As ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Thune praised the committee for passing the Drought Information Act of 2013, which reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

Initially funded in 2006, NIDIS provides drought information to farmers, ranchers and other industries affected by drought-related weather conditions and since 2006, government agencies have worked to develop a long-term plan for drought monitoring, forecasting, research and education.

"Last year, we had significant financial losses to farmers and ranchers including more than $1 billion in corn losses alone," Thune said about the 2012 drought's impact in South Dakota.

The new bill is designed to provide an improved drought prediction system.

"NIDIS is a critically important tool that provides agricultural producers with early warning information they need to prepare for drought conditions," said Thune.

The bill now awaits action by the full Senate.


Thune lauded unanimous committee passage of a bill he co-sponsored on cybersecurity. The Commerce Committee passed a bill that would assign the federal Commerce Department to work with private industry to create best practices and security standards.

"I am pleased our committee was the first to act, and hopefully this will generate momentum to get a bill through Congress. This is long overdue given the types of threats that are out there today," Thune said.