Bartlett, Van Hollen taking service members to State of the Union speech

Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett and Chris Van Hollen are planning to take service members past and present to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday evening.

Bartlett, a Western Maryland Republican, and Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, are among some two dozen lawmakers participating in the bipartisan effort organized by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus to help focus attention on veterans’ needs.

Bartlett will take Sgt. Joseph Beeman, a member of theU.S. ArmyReserves from Cascade who was deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in 2004 and sustain injuries to his back and knees in a mortar attack.

Bartlett said he was “honored” that Beeman, who works for the postal service when not activated, accepted his invitation.

“I am humbled by the sacrifice of thousands of residents of the Sixth District who volunteered and have served in our Armed Forces since the9/11attacks,” he said in a statement.

Bartlett said 22 men from his district have been killed since the start of the war of Afghanistan, and many more have been wounded.

“I wish that I could have invited them all to attend the State of the Union,” he said.

Van Hollen is taking former Marine Corps Sgt. John Mendez of North Bethesda to the address.

Mendez served in the 26th Expeditionary Marine force in Bosnia and Somalia from 1991 to 1995. He now works  for Bethesda Cares, a nonprofit that addresses homelessness and poverty.  Mendez focuses on finding housing for homeless veterans.  

“His service to our nation, both in the United States Marine Corps and as a tireless advocate for homeless veterans, has helped thousands of people in our community,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “He knows first-hand the effects of the struggling economy on our returning troops, and we both look forward to hearing the President’s plan for moving the economy forward.”

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