Dr. Boozman's Check-up

The 2016 Summer Olympics officially gets underway today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m cheering for Team USA and athletes from Arkansas as they go for the gold. Arkansas is well represented at the games with six athletes competing:

  • Kyle Clemons of Jonesboro in Track and Field 
  • Jeff Henderson of McAlmont in Track and Field
  • Isabella Isaksen of Fayetteville in the Pentathlon
  • Margaux Isaksen of Fayetteville in the Pentathlon   
  • Michael Tinsley of Little Rock in Track and Field 
  • Alexis Week of Cabot in Track and Field 

These talented Arkansans have proven their abilities on the athletic field. The commitment, dedication and hard work they put into training to become elite athletes and represent our country is inspiring. They serve as a reminder that perseverance and determination can make anything possible. I’m proud to celebrate these Arkansans as they compete against the best in the world and wish them luck at the Olympics. I know that the whole state will be cheering them on during their Olympic endeavors.

I am proud to honor our veterans. At a ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol I presented their families with the medals their loved ones earned for their service and sacrifice to our country. John Hays served in WWII. He was a radioman and aerial gunner during operations in the vicinity of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Marshall Islands and the Philippines. Arthur Haviland served in WWII in several major battles and campaigns including the invasion of Sicily and the Rome-Arno Campaign. He continued his service in the Minnesota Army National Guard. He retired with more than 38 years of service in uniform. William Ballew served in Korea and Vietnam. He sustained serious injuries in 1969 as a result of hostile action while on duty in Vietnam. Through faith, his strong will and with the support and sacrifice of his loving family, he lived for 33 more years. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal as well as many other awards and medals. 

For a vast majority of Muslims, the month-long observation of Ramadan is marked by fasting, charity and nightly prayer.

This year, the Islamic State (ISIS) turned it into a month of horror.

Close to 350 people were killed in terror attacks in eight different countries during Ramadan. Most of these attacks have been, at the very least, linked to ISIS.

The Obama Administration contends ISIS is lashing out in desperation as a result of the group losing ground in its self-proclaimed caliphate. Even if lost territory is the reason for the uptick in ISIS attacks abroad, a theory which remains up for debate, the terror group clearly has the means and a plan to carry on with its carnage. You can bet it has a plan to regain any lost territory as well.

ISIS clearly has a strategy. Where is the ours, Mr. President? 

High-profile attacks during Ramadan 

6/12—Omar Mateen—who was inspired by and pledged allegiance to ISIS—opened fire inside an Orlando nightclub killing 49 innocent Americans. 

6/13—A 25-year-old Islamic extremist who pledged allegiance to ISIS brutally murdered a police commander and a civil servant at the home they shared in Magnanville, France. The jihadist, who had been previously convicted and jailed for terror recruiting, posted a 12-minute propaganda video to Facebook live from the scene of the attack.

6/21—ISIS terrorists from Syria drove a suicide car bomb across the border to the Jordanian side and detonated it at an army post killing seven soldiers. Jordan is a key ally in the region and in the fight against ISIS.

6/28—One of the world’s busiest airports, Istanbul’s international airport, was stormed by three jihadists armed with assault rifles and explosive belts. They killed 44 people and wounded nearly 150 in an attack that appears to have been directed by ISIS leadership responsible for recruiting and training Russian-speaking jihadists.

7/1—Jihadists armed with knives, automatic rifles and bombs stormed a popular restaurant in an upscale neighborhood in the capital of Bangladesh, taking 35 hostages before torturing and killing those who could not recite the Quran. By the end of the attack, terrorists killed twenty hostages—mostly foreigners—including three U.S. college students.

7/2—A truck packed with explosives detonated by a busy shopping center in one of Baghdad’s more upscale, relatively safe neighborhoods. The center was packed with shoppers buying goods for the upcoming Eid feast, which marks the breaking of Ramadan fast. The bombing, claimed by ISIS, killed over 250 people and wounded another 150. It was one of the deadliest single attacks to hit Iraq during the past 13 years of war and insurgency.

7/4—Three cities across Saudi Arabia were hit by suicide bombers, including one attack at the mosque where the Prophet Muhammad is said to be buried in the holy city of Medina. The mosque is an important stop for millions of pilgrims each year. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, which killed four civilians, but ISIS has attacked the kingdom before and analysts believe that the bombings could be the work of ISIS or its sympathizers

I joined Jonathan Reeves at Jonesboro’s KASU during the station’s morning show today to discuss recent events, including last week’s officer-related shootings and the ambush on law enforcement in Dallas. We also discussed the FBI's decision not to charge Hillary Clinton in relation to her reckless handling of classified emails while serving as Secretary of State and more. If you missed it, you can listen to the interview in its entirety on KASU's website

I will host a telephone town hall on Monday, June 27 at 7 p.m. CT to connect with Arkansans and discuss topics under debate in Washington.

This statewide event allows Arkansans the ability to ask me questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting them.

 Arkansans interested in participating in the phone conversation should call toll free 888-400-1986 to connect to the discussion and ask questions.

I look forward to talking with Arkansans about issues important to families, businesses and the future of our nation. Telephone town halls allow me to connect with Arkansans all over the state and discuss topics important to them. I look forward to the conversation.


In separate statements made just days apart last week, President Obama and CIA Director Brennan both touted progress in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). They pointed to the terror organization’s loss of territory, key leadership and finances.

Their assessments of the group’s capabilities, however, was quite different.

“ISIL is on defense.” - President Obama on the Islamic State (6/14/16)
“ISIL remains a formidable adversary.” - CIA Director John Brennan on the Islamic State (6/16/16)

The disconnect between these two statements is quite striking. While both can be true at the same time, one outlook is unmistakably more positive than the other. The context of President Obama and Director Brennan’s statements were quite different. Clearly the President wants to present the situation in a much better light than our intelligence community sees it.

In a similar vein to the President’s pre-Paris attack declaration that ISIS has been “contained”, he has once again attempted to paint a rosier picture than reality offers.

The truth is the Obama Administration’s lack of a real strategy to combat ISIS allowed the group to continue to add recruits, claim territory and spread its warped ideology. Any territory that has been reclaimed by coalition efforts in the ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, has been countered by massive growth in Libya, the co-opting of groups in places like Egypt and an expansion into Asian and East African nations.

The President’s lack of a strategy has not only failed us with ISIS. The Taliban holds more territory in Afghanistan now than at any time since 2001. Equally as troubling is the fact that the Taliban now appears to be taking a page from the ISIS playbook and ratcheting up the brutality of its atrocities.

We can defeat ISIS. We can make our homeland safer. In order to do so, the President has to bring forth plans based on reality. He must listen to the strategy our military leadership proposes to defeat ISIS abroad. He must engage our intelligence community, which has a much more grim view of ISIS’s capabilities than he does, to ensure that we can prevent attacks at home. And he absolutely must be honest with the American people about the nature of the enemy we face. 

These efforts cannot succeed, however, if the President does not understand the gravity of the situation. ISIS remains a dire threat and must be treated that way.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s editorial “Defeat them, the only answer left” published today, agreed that our nation must take the necessary steps to defeat ISIS and radial Islamic terrorists:

“The best answer to what's happening might have been suggested by the senior senator from Arkansas, John Boozman, who usually doesn't sound this angry. But Orlando was enough to get even the Hon. and honorable John Boozman up in arms, along with the rest of us”

Read the editorial here. (subscription required)

This week the Senate is debating amendments to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I introduced several amendments including one based on the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act (S.2712), legislation I introduced earlier this year to prevent taxing the severance pay of combat-injured veterans.

The Pentagon has been withholding combat-related disability severance payments because of an automated payment system error, which has potentially impacted nearly 14,000 veterans.

Watch this news report about the impact to one Arkansas veteran.

Here’s what they’re saying in support of the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act:

Legislation is Key to Fixing This Problem

“Those who serve this nation and are impacted by that arduous service, deserve no less,said Michael Angelo Coon, member of the Air Force Sergeants Association, which represents current and former members of the Air Force.

“I see this as a priority for Congress to take action on”

“Please do all you can to pass this legislation,” Coon pleads. (Grand Forks Herald, “LETTERS: Combat-injured Veterans Deserve Tax Fairness,” 4/7/16) 

Veterans are Grateful the Issue is Finally Being Addressed

Army Staff Sergeant Brandon Davis told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that he didn’t think he would ever see the money again. Davis was relieved when he got a call from our office saying that we are working to help him and others get their money back.

Davis said that the money “may be a life changer” to some veterans that were affected. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “Boozman Bill Aims to Get Vets Refunds,” 5/16/16)

Supported by the American Legion

“The American Legion ... has worked with veterans in the past to recover these funds.”

The group has specialists who regularly advise transitioning service members on the tax and have them sign paperwork to prevent the tax from being taken out. (Military.com, “Bill Would Reimburse Combat-Injured Vets for Taxed Severance Pay,” 3/17/16)

We Need to Take Better Care of Those Who Fought for Us

“They fought for their country and so deserve every penny of that settlement, in order to make the transition to daily life again” says Brian Carlton of The News Virginian.

Carlton understands that taking care of our veterans is of the utmost importance. All four of his grandparents, as well as three cousins and several childhood friends, have served in our nation’s military. (The News Virginian, “We Can’t Lose Focus On What’s Important,” 4/30/16)