Hoeven Highlights New Veterans Reform Act at Medal Ceremony for Joseph OBrien and Larry Wayman

“These men and their valor are why it is so important that we fulfill our commitment to our veterans in tangible ways, with a strong veterans affairs bill that shows them not just with words but with deeds that we appreciate their service.”

FARGO, N.D. – At a medal presentation ceremony in Fargo today, Senator John Hoeven highlighted the importance of the Veterans Administration (VA) bill Congress passed last week as a concrete way to show our appreciation to America’s veterans. The legislation helps to shorten wait times for health care services and helps veterans get health care services closer to home.

Today’s ceremony was held at the Cass County Courthouse to honor Joseph OBrien, a WWII United States Army veteran, and Larry Wayman who served with the United States Air Force in the Vietnam War.

“These men and their valor are why it is so important that we fulfill our commitment to our veterans in tangible ways, with a strong veterans affairs bill that shows them not just with words but with deeds that we appreciate their service,” Hoeven said. “Today, we pay tribute to Joseph OBrien and Larry Wayman. These medals represent both their legacy of service, and our appreciation for their contribution to the cause of freedom.”

Hoeven today presented Joseph OBrien with four medals for his service in WWII which he had not received previously. He enlisted with the United States Army in May 1945. Obrien deployed to LeHarve, France where he served in the Signal Corps in Company “C,” 3160th Signal Service Battalion as a telephone and telegraph lineman. The unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation with Battle Streamer for its participation in the Europe and Rhineland campaigns. Obrien was discharged in October 1946 and worked with Northwestern (NW) Bell from 1948-1986. He currently resides at Bethany Homes in Fargo.

Joseph Obrien Military Honors Presented Today

  • WWII Victory Medal
  • Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar
  • WWII Honorable Service Lapel Button
  • Army of Occupation Medal and Germany Clasp

The senator also honored Larry Wayman with two Air Force Outstanding Unit awards for the 7406th with which Wayman served from 1965-1966. Hoeven had previously presented three medals to Wayman in 2012 for his distinguished service. The outstanding unit award Hoeven honored Wayman with today was released with assistance from Hoeven’s office.

Wayman grew up near Glyndon, Minn. listening to war stories from his uncles who fought in WWII. He signed up with the United States Air Force in April 1962, and after basic training received additional training as an aircraft electrician. He was first assigned to the 7513th and worked with the Royal Air Force in Mildenhall, England, but was soon after assigned to the 7406th at Rhein-Main Air Force Base in Germany where he first worked on C-130s and the RC-130 spy plane. Later on he modified BB66s and C97s. He was honorably discharged in January 1966, and spent two years on active reserve in Glyndon during which time he began working for NCR Corporation as a large scale engineer. He currently resides in Sheldon, N.D.

Larry Wayman Military Honors Presented Today

  • Two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards

Last month, Hoeven helped to pass the Veterans Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. Under the bill veterans will now have the option to receive care from a non-VA provider at the department’s expense if they cannot schedule an appointment within the established VA wait times or if they live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility. The measure also improves accountability and transparency at the VA, including provisions to reform the way performance reviews are used and to make more information available to patients and the public.

Hoeven continues to work on behalf of veterans. He has been leading efforts to ensure that veterans can access a nearby health care provider if their local Community Based Outpatient Clinic or VA Medical Center cannot provide the required service. He met recently with newly confirmed VA Secretary Robert McDonald to press for his support to implement a policy administratively that would allow veterans more options for health care and long-term care (LTC) services in their home communities.

Hoeven serves on the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.