WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Russ Fulcher (R-ID) introduced the Bring Our Heroes Home Act (BOHHA) alongside Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH). This bipartisan bill is a companion bill to U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) senate bill, S.2794, which was introduced on November 6, 2019, and has received endorsements from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs.
The Bring Our Heroes Home Act would ensure that family members can more easily obtain the records of American servicemembers who were listed as Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA). The existing process for families of Missing Armed Forces Personnel to recover these records is extremely cumbersome and lengthy. Many times, when families can track down the records, much of the information is redacted because it was once classified, even though the classification may no longer apply.
This bill would require executive agencies in possession of the Missing Armed Forces Personnel records to account for them. The records would then be review quickly by an independent board to determine if they may be declassified. They would then be deposited at the National Archives where families can easily access them.
Congressman Fulcher commented, “Idaho families should not have to deal with bureaucratic red tape just to learn about the brave history of their loved-ones. I am proud to introduce this bicameral, bipartisan legislation to ensure families have access to the stories of sacrifice by their family members.”
“The introduction of the Bring Our Heroes Home Act in the House of Representatives signals to families and survivors that their loved ones who sacrificed so much in service to our nation will not be forgotten or left behind,” Senator Crapo said. “I thank Representatives Pappas and Fulcher for their support of this important legislation, and look forward to working with them and Senator Shaheen to get this bill through Congress. Further, endorsements by the VFW, AMVETS and the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs is evidence of the continued commitment these service organizations have to their fellow veterans.”
“I can’t imagine the feeling of families who have waited years and in many cases decades to learn any information at all about their loved ones who are missing in action or unaccounted for,” said Congressman Pappas. “For far too long, the federal government has not had an expedited process in place to declassify and make public the necessary information that could bring peace to these families. This tangible step towards identification and repatriation reaffirms the commitment to our nation’s service members and their families with a clear message: you are not forgotten.”
“We need to do everything in our power to ensure that those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation are brought back home. I’m thankful that the Bring Our Heroes Home Act has now been introduced in the House of Representatives,” said Senator Shaheen. “By creating an expedited and efficient process allowing family members of missing service men and women to access information on their loved ones, we will move one step closer to delivering closure to families and honoring our commitment to return these brave Americans home. I’ll continue to work to move this important legislation through Congress.”
“On behalf of the 1.6 million members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary, we offer our support for S. 2794 – [the] Bring our Heroes Home Act,” wrote Vincent “BJ” Lawrence, Executive Director of the VFW. “This will in time grant easier access for families of Missing Armed Forces Personnel to receive their loved ones’ records.”
“AMVETS supports the passage and implementation of this legislation,” wrote Joseph Chenelly, Executive Director of AMVETS. “As an organization of more than 250,000 members, we are committed to never forget our missing in action and prisoners of war. We commend Senator Crapo for not forgetting their families.”
“The Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs offers its unfettered support for the Bring Our Heroes Home Act,” wrote Richard Downes, President, and Donna Knox, Legislative Liaison, for the Coalition. “We urge other senators to support and co-sponsor the bill as a demonstration of commitment to the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces. Let us truly work to leave no one behind.”
Full bill text of the Bring Our Heroes Home Act introduced today in the House, can be found here.