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September 2018



John McCain Senator,

War Hero Dies at 81

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), died Aug. 25, just four days before his 82nd birthday, after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

This was not the first “battle” of McCain’s life. He spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi, North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, after being shot down as he piloted his U.S. Navy Skyhawk jet in 1967. He broke both arms and a leg as the plane crashed in a lake, where he was captured by Communist soldiers.

With his North Vietnamese captors providing no proper medical treatment and subjecting him to years of torture, McCain was left with injuries, including severely restricted movement of his arms.

After being released in 1973, he returned home on crutches and began arduous and painful physical rehabilitation. He later regained flight status and commanded a Navy squadron and then retired from the service in 1981.

Before retiring, he served as the naval liaison to the U.S. Senate. His public service continued when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and the U.S. Senate several years later. During his political career, he served on several Senate committees.

In addition, he ran for president twice, losing out to George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008. During his long political career, much of McCain’s focus and legislative victories were about helping the lives of veterans and the disabled, as well as improving access to healthcare.

One of his achievements was his role in crafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1991 as a co-sponsor and later the ADA Amendments Act in 2008. He also supported the U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a treaty which calls for non-discrimination and equal access for the disabled in all areas of life.

“As a co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the ADA Amendments Act, I have long advocated on behalf of equal access and non-discrimination for all Americans, including our veterans and today’s disabled soldiers returning home from serving their nation in war,” read a statement by McCain on his website. “I support U.S. ratification of the disability treaty [CRPD], as it seeks to advance these same fundamental values of equality and human dignity around the world.”

In addition, he was a co-sponsor of the Video Restoration Act, a technology bill for the disabled to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s rules for the description of video programming and a supporter of the Help America Vote Act, providing voting options for people of all abilities.

“Sen. McCain’s leadership and influence in shaping veterans’ policy will truly be missed,” read a statement on the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s website. “He will be remembered as a key leader in reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs, ensuring that veterans have timely access to health care and for leading the way to expand and improve mental health services provided by VA in an effort to curb veteran suicide. Sen. McCain was also a staunch champion for the rights of people with disabilities. He was a principal co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the ADA Amendments Act, and fought courageously for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, even against members of his own party.”

McCain is survived by his wife, seven children, five grandchildren and his mother, Roberta.

In 2013 Terry Moakley, right, then Chair of the VetsFirst Committee received what he referred to as the “honor of a lifetime” when he met and presented Sen. John McCain, with the Vets-First Congressional Bronze Star Award in front of a large crowd of veterans and disability rights advocates from across the nation. Vets were attending United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill – a two-day event that provided training and congressional visits for advocates.

Moakley noted that in McCain’s remarks after the presentation, rather than speaking about his own accomplishments Mc-Cain spoke about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the need for its passage.

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September 2018