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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | Feb. 14, 2011

Guardmembers visited by congressional delegates at Camp Victory

By Army Spc. Charlene Mendiola United States Forces – Iraq

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - Members of Congress from California, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Utah spent time with Soldiers from their home states at the Joint Visitors Bureau hotel here during a congressional delegation visit Feb. 2.

The representatives arrived in Iraq to conduct updates on financial management, foreign affairs and homeland defense.

“We came out here to see how American dollars are spent [and] controlled and its value for the American people – particularly for the Iraqi reconstruction,” said California State Rep. Darrell Issa, the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“The progress here in Iraq has improved since my last visit in 2009; the Iraqi government certainly has confidence in taking the lead in its own defense,” he said. “The most important thing that we see here today, as we continue to encounter conflicts in Afghanistan, is to take the lessons learned here in Iraq and use them there.”

The representatives also gave the Soldiers the opportunity to talk about issues or concerns.

“I felt comfortable talking to our representative,” said Army Staff Sgt. Raymundo Lopez, a California Guardmember and petroleum and supply specialist with the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment. “Being in the military, it is important to speak to someone at their level so you can understand the political view on what is going on in Iraq.”

Issa said their visit was also a great opportunity for representatives to visit and thank the men and women serving the U.S., while they risk their lives every day.

“This is my first visit here in Iraq, and it has made a really deep impression,” said Congressman Raul Labrador, a representative from Idaho. “I have never served in the military, so I can’t imagine the hardship from being away from family.”

“It’s amazing to see Labrador out here,” said Army Staff Sgt. Breane Buckingham, an Idaho Guardmember and supply sergeant with 116th Cavalry Brigade. “It is evident that he and the people back home support the troops.”

“The message I want to send back to home is for families to know that their Soldiers are working hard and doing great work,” Labrador said. “They should be really proud of what they do, and I am more proud of my country today.”

Other attendees from Congress included Congressman Todd Platz of Pennsylvania, who dined with soldiers from the 228th Engineer Company of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard; Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who dined with soldiers of the 19th SF Group of the Utah Army National Guard; and Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, who dined with soldiers from E Battery, 101st FA of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.