Travelers taking a trip across the Nisqually River bridges could permanently become reminded of veterans if a legislative bill is passed, which would rename the southbound I-5 bridge to the "Iraq Veterans Bridge" and the northbound name to the "Afghanistan Veterans Bridge".
State lawmakers like Senator Steve O'Ban appear to be in full support of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars' push to rename these bridges in honor of veterans.
Senator O'Ban: I want Washington state to be the most veteran-friendly state and the best place for veterans to call home. When I learned that the Puget Sound Chapter of the Military Order of World Wars (MOWW) was seeking this change, it made perfect sense to me. These bridges are the gateway to JBLM on I-5 and will be a fitting reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Sen. O'Ban: This is part of a larger effort to make the section of I-5 through JBLM the "Veteran's Highway" in which each bridge and overpass would commemorate those who served in specific conflicts. Iraq and Afghanistan, both battle fronts in the War on Terror in which JBLM personnel were deeply involved, should be recognized by two bridges side-by-side.
Progress appears to be moving right along as the bill has passed unanimously out of the Transportation Committee and Senator O'Ban is expecting the bill to pass on the floor of the Senate soon.
The inspiration to honor veterans isn't something residents of the Pacific Northwest take lightly, and state lawmakers and proud military parent, Senator O'Ban, is no different.
Sen. O'Ban: America is a special place with a special purpose in this world. I believe this country has served as a "city on a hill" and has provided hope to millions imprisoned in fascism and communism and remains a beacon of hope to this day. Without our Armed Forces, I shudder to think of what this world might look like. Both my sons serve in the Army and I think it's among the highest callings.
With direct family ties, it's easy to see that honoring veterans is something that the senator has always taken personally.
However, the military is such an important key element to the Pacific Northwest's economy as a whole.
Sen. O'Ban: As I said, the importance of honoring veterans to me is personal. I think if you honor this country and what it stands for, you have to honor veterans. Without them, we'd lose everything. And on a community level, so many of our friends and neighbors in my district are veterans. And JBLM is essential to the Pierce County economy. In the 28th Legislative District, our well-being is directly tied to JBLM - there's no question. But even if it weren't, the importance of honoring veterans for their larger role in the world would still be there.
This isn't the first, and won't be the last, time Senator O'Ban has worked closely with veteran-related bills
Sen. O'Ban: I'm grateful for being entrusted with the position of state senator and I feel like it's really my honor to be able to help in something like this. Last year, I was able to see the launch of a pilot program I sponsored that offers tax credits to employers who hire veterans who suffer under long-term unemployment. This year, in addition to the bill to rename the Nisqually bridges, I have legislation to facilitate pro-bono legal services to aid members of the military, veterans, and their family members in Washington state.
Contact Senator Steve O'Ban at 360.786.7654 or by visiting steveoban.src.wastateleg.org.
"If anyone has an idea on how our state could better serve veterans, I hope they will contact my office and share it with me."