OLYMPIA – For the first time, members of the House of Representatives formed a Veterans & Military Families Caucus. The bipartisan group plans to give veterans, military service members, and their families a unified voice to advocate for the unique issues they face. All members have served in the military, are from a military family or represent a large military population.
“I have spent my career championing issues that impact veterans, military service members and their families. I look forward to continuing this work with a bipartisan commitment to meet the needs of those who have served and sacrificed for their country,” stated Rep. Kristine Reeves (D-Federal Way). “All of us share a lived experience that connects us to our national security in some way. It’s one issue that transcends party lines and focuses on putting people first. This is personal to all of us.”
Reeves, whose twin brother serves in the United States Air Force, currently serves as the Executive Director of Economic Development for the military and defense sector within the Washington State Department of Commerce. Formerly she served as U.S. Senator Patty Murray’s Statewide Veterans Constituency Coordinator.
“Serving in the U.S. Navy was the greatest honor of my life. I am thrilled to be joining my fellow veterans on this committee to work on behalf of all active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel across Washington state,” said Rep. Drew MacEwen (R-Union).
After graduating from the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program, MacEwen served in the Navy’s submarine force for six years. He first developed his strong bond with western Washington after being stationed at Naval Base Kitsap. He went on to complete five strategic deterrent patrols on two different Ohio-class submarines, the USS Nevada and the USS Florida.
Reeves and MacEwen currently serve as the co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, which convenes in the interim to review and address issues pertinent to veterans, military service members and their families. Both will serve as co-chairs of this new caucus. Rep. Mari Leavitt and Rep. Chris Gildon, both newly elected to the state legislature, have been elected to serve as vice-chairs of this caucus.
Reeves and MacEwen will join Reps. Robert J. Sutherland (R-Granite Falls), John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), Chris Gildon (R-Puyallup), Jeremie Dufault (R-Selah), Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland), Matt Boehnke (R-Kennewick), Christine Kilduff (D-University Place), Jenny Graham (R-Mead), Mari Leavitt (D-University Place), Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline), Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick), Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue), Gina Mosbrucker (R-Goldendale), Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) and Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver).
The United States military represents the second largest employer in Washington State and nearly $13B in economic impact statewide.