Senator Murkowski - eNewsletter 05-22-09

Murkowski Reflections on Memorial Day

Above, Senator Murkowski spoke with and thanked some of the Veterans attending The Gathering in Palmer in April. The Gathering is an event to recognize Veterans from the State of Alaska hosted by Veterans Aviation Outreach in concert with the Anchorage VA.

On Memorial Day, we recognize the men and women of our military who have served our country. I call on all Alaskans to thank those who have served and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom.

To the members of the Alaska Territorial Guard who served before Alaska was a state, to our veterans from conflicts past, to the men and women serving now, we thank you all for your service to our country. We also express our sincere thanks to our military families, as they too have borne the sacrifices of military service. 

But most importantly, on Memorial Day, we remember those who went to war and did not return. We remember and honor our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.  We remember their spouses, their children and their families as they grieve. When called to serve, these brave men and women answered, only to give all of themselves so that others may be free.

On this Memorial Day, we are reminded once again that our freedom is not free. It is defended by the vigilance and service of men and women who selflessly volunteer for their country.  Let us never forget the commitment and sacrifice these men and women have made so that others may know freedom on this Memorial Day and every other day of the year.

Legislation to Require Double Vessel Escort through Prince William Sound

Last week, I joined with Sen. Begich, to introduce legislation that would require all tankers transporting oil in Prince William Sound be escorted by two towing vessels, which has been the practice for the past 20 years.

The current tanker safety system was authorized in the Oil Spill Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90) and currently applies to single hulled oil tankers only. While the last single hulled tanker in the Prince William Fleet is expected to retire from service before August 2012, our legislation would require dual escort vessels for all double hulled tankers as well.

The current oil transport system in Prince William Sound is one of the safest in the world and while double hulled tankers are an improvement over single hulls, they will not, by themselves, prevent oil spills.  Even with double hulled tankers, we must not compromise the existing safety system which has been so successful.  We must remain ever vigilant and not forget the devastation that the Exxon Valdez oil spill caused.

Working to Advance ALS Research

Jane Gilbert, President and CEO of the ALS Association, presents the Jacob K. Javits Public Service Award to Sen. Murkowski, who helped secure passage last year of the ALS Registry Act in the Senate. The legislation, which was signed into law, establishes the first ever national patient registry of people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Many of you may know someone who suffers or has suffered from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord making it excruciatingly difficult to move muscles throughout the body.

There has been very little progress in understanding the disease since baseball great Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS 70 years ago. Researchers have not had a centralized database to store and analyze data on individuals who suffer from this disease. Last fall, I pushed for and succeeded in passing legislation that created a national ALS registry that will enable researchers to supplement their current research by compiling information on patients who have or who may be diagnosed with ALS. Such information would be used to determine if patients with ALS share any similarities that can help researchers better understand this disease.

Like the families of nearly 6,000 Americans diagnosed with ALS every year, I too have personally been touched by this disease. In 2005, one of my family members was diagnosed with ALS and I have witnessed the struggles and challenges his family has faced. With this new ALS registry, I am hopeful that researchers will be able to utilize the data to develop treatments and an eventual cure for this disease.

Earlier this month, I was humbled to receive the Javits Award from the ALS Association for my work on this important legislation.

Senator Murkowski meets with ALS advocates from Alaska in Washington recently. Pictured with Senator Murkowski are (from left) Linda Krieder, Jenny Dwyer, Patrick Dwyer and Cathy Collet. Patrick Dwyer is married to Senator Murkowski’s cousin Jenny.

Murkowski Encourages Women to eat More Fish During Pregnancy

Murkowski, a member of the Senate Health Committee, speaks at a Capitol Hill health briefing on pregnant women and fish consumption sponsored by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

New research, including a recent FDA report, shows that pregnant women aren’t eating enough seafood and that babies benefit significantly when their mothers eat plenty of fish during pregnancy. Research indicates that a low seafood diet actually hinders optimal brain development among babies.

Some women tend to reduce their seafood consumption while pregnant due to a fear of mercury within the seafood. The truth is that almost all seafood has some traces of mercury, but there are many studies available with the facts on eating seafood when pregnant, the proper amounts to eat and the health benefits of doing so.

On top of the benefits to a mother’s baby, eating low-fat high-protein fish benefits a pregnant woman’s brain, heart and weight and may help prevent and manage post-partum depression.

So, if you’re expecting, or know someone who may be, read up about the wonderful seafood options available right in our back yard.

For more information, please visit the National Healthy Babies, Healthy Mothers Coalition here.

Award Winning Alaskans

Senator Murkowski meets with Lincoln Wensely of Kenai and his family during their visit to Washington, D.C. Lincoln is a recipient of the President’s Environmental Youth Award for his project on the damage being caused to the sand dunes along the Kenai River. As part of his project, Lincoln produced a three-minute video along with public service announcements to educate people about how to reduce their impact on this area.  Pictured with Senator Murkowski are (from left), Sally Hanft, Merrill Sikorski, Lincoln Wensely, and Lincoln’s father, John Wensely.

A Senate birthday - Senator Murkowski turns 52 this week.