The primary responsibility of our federal government is to provide for a strong national defense. In order to meet that requirement, our Armed Forces must be trained, equipped and ready to meet any challenge. Soldiers who are in good health, well-prepared and well-led are best equipped to defend American interests at home and abroad. Equally important is the charge to care for our soldiers’ families. With the opening of the new Irwin Army Community Hospital on Fort Riley, soldiers can rest assured that their family members have access to and are receiving the best possible care while they are carrying out critical missions.

Since breaking ground in 2009, the Fort Riley community has eagerly awaited the opening of a new, state-of-the-art Irwin Army Community Hospital. The celebratory opening this week represents a significant U.S. Army investment in Fort Riley and the thousands who call the Big Red One home.

Major construction projects often face unforeseen issues that cause delays, which unfortunately was the case at the Irwin hospital. After visiting and learning more about the construction delays, I elevated the issue among the ranks and got top Army officials involved. During a hearing, I raised the issue with the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, who then called on the Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate action. After a follow-up visit to the site in March, I was encouraged to see progress on the ground. I appreciate the efforts of the Corps and everyone involved who sought the completion of this facility.

The Irwin Army Community Hospital medical team, led by Colonel John Melton, has worked diligently to prepare for this moment. In July, the U.S. Army recognized them with the “Army Safety and Occupational Health Star Strong Flag Award” for making certain our troops, their families and all hospital staff are safe within the hospital facility. They are trained, equipped and ready to work in the new Irwin Army Community Hospital and treat the Big Red One community of soldiers, families and TRICARE beneficiaries who seek their medical care.

Kansans want to serve soldiers just as they serve and protect us, and the opening of this facility will make certain that our soldiers have access to the kind of medical care they deserve. Thanks to all who have worked to see the new Irwin Army Community Hospital become reality and to all the Kansans who have supported the project. I look forward to seeing the hospital fulfill our sacred duty to care for those who serve our nation for many years to come.