Blackburn, and several other elected officials and guests, received a guided tour of the Wilson County Veterans Museum, which opened last year, courtesy of Wilson County Commissioner and veteran Jerry McFarland.
The museum features a Vietnam-era fully restored “Huey” helicopter, as well as exhibits from each period in U.S. history. The artifacts in the exhibit belonged to Wilson County veterans.
Visitors to the museum are able to select programs to watch on large video monitors over each section. The videos give an overview of the conflict and explain the artifacts in each case.
The complex also houses the Wilson County Veterans Affairs office, the Wilson County Veterans Park and a research library.
“This is such an impressive museum, and what a gift to the community to have not only the museum, but also the park for people to be reminded that there are those who sacrificed, not only their time and talent, but they sacrificed their lives so that we have the freedom that we have,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn’s trip to the museum came after the U.S. Senate recently approved the VA Mission Act, which will alters how the Veterans Affairs will pay for private care, initiates a review of the department’s infrastructure and protocols and more.
Blackburn said she is excited about the possibilities of the $55 billion bill, which President Donald Trump said he would sign.
“The goal is to make sure veterans have the tools they need, and that the VA meets its obligations or they get to go outside that system to get the help they need,” she said. “With that said, the appeal system at the VA still has to be cleaned up – getting rid of some of these employees that are not doing their job. That still needs to be dealt with.”
Blackburn also discussed her upcoming U.S. Senate race with Democrat opponent former Gov. Phil Bredesen to replace Sen. Bob Corker.
“You look at what Tennesseans are looking for in a U.S. senator. They want someone who is going to be a conservative U.S. senator who is going to take Tennessee values and put those to work in Washington, D.C., to get things done that they want to see done,” said Blackburn, who said she is supportive of Trump’s agenda, specifically on illegal immigration, tax cuts and battling drug and sex trafficking.
“Tennesseans are benefitting from the tax cuts. My opponent said he would have voted against those tax cuts,” said Blackburn, who said she does disagree with Trump on some issues, particularly tariffs. “When there’s a policy difference, I generally speak up. I reach out. I make the position known – what the position of Tennesseans is going to be on that issue.”
Blackburn’s visit also came the same day a school shooting took place in Indiana that wounded a teacher and student and one week after a shooting in Texas left 10 dead.
Blackburn said she’s had conversations with Trump about gun regulations and received input from Tennesseans about the issue.
“The president invited me to the White House as one of 17 legislators – Democrat and Republican – after the Parkland shooting, and we had a good conversation with this,” she said.
Blackburn said constituents, particularly mothers, voiced concern about the presence of violence in American culture, media and video games and the issues that surround mental health.
“We think it’s important to have a red flag for mental health. People with severe mental illness ought not be able to buy a gun. When you have someone who has had severe mental illness and they turn 18 and the parents can’t get the records, or that juvenile record is not available to law enforcement – those are things we need to fix,” she said.
Blackburn said she hopes the U.S. Senate will take up House legislation related to the ban of bump stocks.
“We’ve always been able to protect the Second Amendment and protect our citizens, and now ought not be any different,” she said.