Congressman John P. Murtha to Serve as Seton Hill University May Commencement Speaker
U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha has dedicated his life to serving his country both in the military and in the halls of Congress. He had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990; and he has been serving the people of the 12th Congressional District since 1974, one of only 131 people in the nation's history to have served more than 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and one of only 224 Members of Congress who have served 30 or more years. With the disappearance of the coal and steel jobs that for more than a century were the lifeblood of the area, he pushed the region in a new direction, intent on diversifying the economy to help insulate it from future shocks. In the early 1990s, new companies in an industry unfamiliar in Western Pennsylvania - defense - began to spring up, bringing more than 5,000 jobs to the district he represents. He founded the House Steel Caucus and has brought millions of dollars to the United Mine Workers to retrain displaced miners and train new miners. Murtha has supported a patient's bill of rights, prescription-drug benefits, a better minimum wage, and protecting Medicare, Social Security and veterans' benefits. Determined to reverse the diabetes epidemic in Western Pennsylvania, he has directed funding to UPMC's Diabetes Institute for diabetes prevention, education and outreach, and to Children's Hospital for a project on Type 1 diabetes. He has forged partnerships between Western Pennsylvania hospitals and world-renowned institutions such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital, one of which has led to research that could revolutionize the early detection and treatment of breast cancer and significantly advance efforts to eradicate the disease. He has played a major role in tourism development in the region, starting the National Heritage Area program, which includes two areas in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Congressman Murtha is so well-respected for his first-hand knowledge of military and defense issues that he has been a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties on military and defense issues and is one of the most effective advocates for the national defense in the country. He is ranking member and former chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, a Vietnam combat veteran and a retired Marine Corps colonel with 37 years of service, a rare combination of experience that enables him to understand defense and military operations from every perspective. Congressman Murtha's countless honors include the National Breast Cancer Coalition Leadership Award, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry's Government Leader of the Year, Pittsburgh's Riverperson of the Year and Pennsylvania's two highest honors, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. He has also received the Bronze Star with Combat "V", two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his service in Vietnam, and was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal by the Marine Corps Commandant when he retired from the Marines.