We are fortunate in this country to have men and women who choose to join the military, and in the process sign a blank check payable to the American people for an amount up to and including their lives. Nowhere else do you see commitment like that. We as citizens have an obligation to repay their commitment and sacrifices with our care and support when they come home to their families and communities. I am deeply committed to serving our armed forces members and veterans because of what I have seen and experienced. Two of my older brothers served in the military and my husband spent 27 years in the Navy. Two of my sons have served in the military with one still being active in the US Army Reserve. I have seen first-hand how military commitments can impact service members and the lives of their families. For me, supporting active duty personnel and veterans isn’t a political issue, it’s a deep, fundamental obligation of our government.
My desire to support service members and their families was a key factor that inspired me to join the Navy League – a civilian organization founded to provide support to the sea services. I have been associated with the Navy League for over 30 years. In this capacity I have worked with many talented individuals providing support to active duty personnel and their dependents associated with the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and U.S. flagged Merchant Marines. In my time with the Navy League, I have served in numerous leadership positions at the local, regional, and national levels.
As a legislator, I am currently a member of the Joint Committee on Veterans’ and Military Affairs. I am a past chair of this committee, and have supported policies such as in-state tuition at state universities for veterans and active duty members of the military. I also supported the creation of veteran service centers at universities in order to provide them a place to gather on campus and to access state and federal veteran services. I am committed to ensuring that veterans are provided the services and programs they were promised when they joined the armed forces.
There is work that remains to be done. Homelessness, suicide, drug addiction, and other problems acutely affect veterans in our nation. I remember a time when those who returned from serving their nation were met with scorn or ridicule. We can never go back to that time. Reinforcing our duty to help veterans find work, housing, health care, and other services is critical. There are serious barriers in Olympia to improving veteran services, but be assured that I am focused and have proven my ability to create real change for veterans and their families. I ask for your support in the August 2nd primary election.