Guest op-ed from Terry Philips, former IDP Veterans Caucus Chair.
I initially became interested in Mayor Pete’s campaign primarily because he was a fellow Navy Veteran. As I watched him talk to the reporter in French about the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral, I felt the sense of pride of being an American, a feeling that I had not experienced for some time.
I saw in Pete what I want in a president: an empathetic and articulate leader, someone that can comfort us in good times as well as bad times. As I have watched his campaign, I have seen it over and over again as he relates to voters from all walks of life.
I am quite concerned about the high rate of veterans who take their own lives each year. On average, 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Most Americans believe that all veterans can receive care from the VA, but this is not the case. Most veterans do not have a service-connected disability or meet the financial threshold to qualify, or are unable to navigate the bureaucracy of the VA.
Pete understands this and would guarantee access to mental health care and would stress suicide prevention by investing in and enhancing the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide. Pete would ensure that all veterans have access to excellent, affordable care through his Medicare for All Who Want It, as well as with a better funded and staffed VA. He will modernize the VA so it’s apolitical, innovative and focused on the needs of all Veterans.
I support Mayor Pete because I believe that he understands the obligation that we have to our veterans. He has also stated that their care is a matter of national security, and I have felt that way for years.
At what point do we find ourselves without motivated people to serve? I joined the Navy when I was 17 because I believed in our country, and as I’ve seen others use our military as political pawns, I worry that young people today will not have the same perspective.
The high school seniors that graduate next June will have never seen a time that our country was not at war. Recently, recruitment goals have not been realized, and we must fully understand that we cannot simply assume that people will continue to make the sacrifices that our country requires.
Pete’s new proposal recognizing what veterans and the military community have to offer our country is critical. It honors their service by keeping our country’s promise to them. Pete’s “A New Call to Service” will inspire a new generation of Americans to serve their country – both in the military as well as through national service in communities all across the United States.
As we recognize veterans on Veterans Day and understand the value of their service let’s ask ourselves what can we do? Electing a president that understands the needs of fellow veterans and is committed to addressing them is the first step. Pete is exactly the right candidate we need to do so.
by Terry K. Philips