WASHINGTON — Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee returned April 6 from a bipartisan Congressional Delegation trip to Afghanistan to visit Michigan troops.
The three-member delegation — led by Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) — met with U.S. forces and held important discussions with highranking U.S. and Afghan officials regarding political, economic and security issues affecting the region.
“This past week, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with troops and military leaders on the ground in Afghanistan,” Kildee said. “Congress has a major role in U.S. foreign policy and oversight of this war, and it is important to understand operational and funding challenges as we continue to responsibly end the war and bring our troops home.”
Kildee also met with service members from Michigan while in Afghanistan, where he had a chance to talk and spend time with them on the ground. He delivered Detroit Tigers flags as a reminder of home and a small memento to troops in appreciation of their service to our country.
“While in Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to spend time with troops, including service members from Michigan, to get their view of the situation on the ground,” Kildee said. “As a member of Congress, my job every day is to represent my constituents, including service members serving abroad. It’s especially important for me to hear from members of our armed forces first-hand to understand the challenges they face and how we can ensure they have the resources they need, both in combat zones and when they return home.”
While in Afghanistan, Kildee attended a memorial service for his cousin, U.S. Army Spc. Joseph Dennis Johnson, who was killed in combat by an improvised explosive device in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on June 16, 2010.
Pfc. Gunnar R. Hotchkin, 31, from Naperville, Ill., was also killed in the same attack. Johnson, who was 24-years-old, was born in Flint and graduated from Carman- Ainsworth High School in 2004. He received the Combat Action Badge, Purple Heart, and Bronze Star, among several other medals and commendations.
“Like thousands of other military families who have lost a loved one while serving, my family, including Joe’s parents Terri and Dennis, feels the human cost of war,” Kildee said. “We will never forget the sacrifices of our fallen heroes or their families who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we cherish as Americans every day.”
Due to national security concerns, Congressman Kildee was asked not to make any public announcement of the official trip until he returned to the U.S. This was Kildee’s first trip to Afghanistan as a Member of Congress. Other members of the official trip included Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). — Rhonda Sanders