Serving Nebraska during the last five years has been an honor, and as I begin 2018, I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of our great state and our great people. My staff, both in Washington and throughout Nebraska, work hard to ensure that Nebraskans receive the best representation and guidance when navigating federal bureaucracy, planning a trip to the nation's capital or looking for other services that my office can provide.
My offices in Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk, Kearney and Scottsbluff are always ready to help you. Whether working with the VA to help you with services you earned protecting our nation, getting an answer about Social Security benefits or obtaining passports for your next trip out of the country, my Senate staff is committed to serving you.
Sometimes problems in foreign countries can become matters of freedom, or even life and death. In 1999, Marcel Pika moved his family to Lincoln following the start of a civil war in his native country of the Republic of Congo. In 2016, after becoming an American citizen, he was arrested while visiting the Congo, following their election. He was never charged with a crime.
Working with the State Department and Congressman Fortenberry, my office helped to secure his release. When I met with the Pika family, I was touched by their incredible strength and courage. I was happy to join all Nebraskans in welcoming Marcel and his wife, Josephine, home and wishing them well as they reunited with their family.
My casework staff is also dedicated to dealing with issues closer to home. In March 2017, the conservator of Bert Crum, a 100 percent disabled Vietnam veteran, contacted my office. He hoped to obtain the service medals Mr. Crum earned during Vietnam. A fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 destroyed his records outlining his commendations. Working with the National Personnel Records Center, we checked battle reports and contacted archivists to find Crum's service records. He had earned a Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Presidential Unit Citation, among other awards. In May, Crum received all of his medals for serving in the United States Marine Corps.
For those who want to meet in person with a member of my staff about any issue, we also hold mobile office hours in communities all across Nebraska. In 2017, our office held 93 of these meetings – one in each of our state’s counties. These mobile office hours act as a convenient place where you can ask questions and share concerns regarding the challenges you have encountered with the federal government. To find more information about upcoming office hours in 2018, check your community newspapers, my website, my Facebook page or my Twitter account.
Every year, thousands of Nebraskans visit our nation’s capital to experience our country’s rich history and tour some of our wonderful museums and monuments. I encourage you to use my Washington office as a resource as you plan your trip. Staff can schedule tours of the White House or U.S. Capitol. They also have information about many other attractions in Washington, D.C.
If you visit the nation’s capital, I also hope you consider attending a time-honored state tradition: the Nebraska Breakfast. Hosted in the Senate’s Dirksen Office Building, the breakfast is open to all Nebraskans and attended by the entire Nebraska congressional delegation. This will mark the 75th year of the breakfast, which Senator Hugh Butler instituted in 1943. The Nebraska Breakfast is the longest-running meeting of its kind. More information regarding the Nebraska Breakfast can be found by visiting my website or contacting my office.
Serving Nebraska families is the most rewarding aspect of my job. Please contact me if you have concerns regarding your interaction with the federal bureaucracy, are planning to visit Washington or want to voice your suggestions on important issues.
Happy New Year and thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.