House Unanimously Passes Kelly Bill to Name Butler VA Health Care Center After Local Hero Abie Abraham
Bill honors Butler County World War II veteran,
co-sponsored by entire PA congressional delegation
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday evening in support of his bill (H.R. 609) to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care center in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the “Abie Abraham VA Clinic.” The legislation – co-sponsored by all 18 members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation – was passed by the House with unanimous support following Rep. Kelly’s address yesterday evening.
Excerpt of Rep. Kelly's address:
“As he got into his later years, in his 80s and his 90s, going to Butler’s VA center every single day to help fellow veterans. His sole purpose in life was to help other American citizens, to help other veterans, to bring a little light into their life, to bring a little happiness into their life. Forty thousand hours of service in the VA center! He could’ve spent his time doing other things, but he didn’t. He chose to stay with those he loved. He chose to serve those he loved. He chose to continue to serve, even in his retirement, this nation that he loved so much. I can’t tell you how much it means to be able to look at that new health center going up and knowing that Mr. Abraham, from his new post, is looking down and is so thankful to a grateful nation that we are taking time to take care of those who’ve given everything they can to make sure our nation remains free.”
Excerpt of H.R. 609:
Abie was stationed during World War II with the 18th Infantry in New York; 3 years with the 14th Infantry in Panama; 15th Infantry, unassigned in China, while the Panay was sunk; 30th Infantry in Presidio, San Francisco; and the 31st Infantry in Manila, Philippines, for 9 years.
During World War II, Abie fought, was captured, endured the Bataan Death March, and, as a prisoner of war for 3 1/2 years, was beaten, stabbed, and shot, and survived malaria and starvation to be rescued by the 6th Rangers.
Abraham stayed behind at the request of General Douglas MacArthur for 2 1/2 more years disinterring the bodies of his fallen comrades from the Bataan Death March and the prison camps, helping to identify their bodies and see that they were properly laid to rest.
After his promotion in 1945, Abie came back to the United States where he served as a recruiter, and then also served 2 years in Germany until his retirement with 30 years of service as a Master Sergeant.
Abie received numerous medals for his service, including the Purple Heart, and had several documentaries on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.
Abie was also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Purple Heart Combat/Infantry Organization, the American Ex-POWs, the Disabled American Veterans, and the American Defenders of Bataan.
Abraham was a volunteer at Veterans Affairs Butler Healthcare for 23 years from 1988 to 2011 and had 36,851 service hours caring for our veterans.
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), Ranking Member, House Veterans Affairs Committee:
“A very special thank you to the gentleman from Pennsylvania for the honor and privilege to learn about this great American. … I often times hear that people disparage when Congress does naming bills. If anyone was ever deserving of having a VA center named after them, and the importance of attaching that name and the history for those that come after, this is the gentleman.”
NOTE: A previous version of this bill (H.R. 5317) was passed by the House of Representatives on June 21, 2016, but did not advance in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 609 is widely expected to pass in the Senate and be signed into law this year.