Advocating for Veterans

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

— General Douglas MacArthur

Since first attending college, I’ve been a voice that veterans can depend on.

My first year at Chemeketa I was promoted to the position of President of the Veterans Club, hired on as Veterans Representative and organized many events to raise funds for the Veterans Lounge and other events on campus.

Why do I do this?

  • Experiencing first-hand the traumas of combat and reintegration, I want to make access to services easier.
  • As an Honorably Discharged Veteran, I’m aware of the resources available but also the difficulties in navigating them.
  • I’ve felt the pain my fellow service-members feel. I’ve struggled with them, I’ve endured with them and I’d like to be there with them as they were there for me.

Struggling with mental health, addiction, divorce, recidivism, homelessness and unemployment are all very real consequences of deploying to a combat zone. I should know. What I’ve noticed though is how some have consistently failed our Veterans with policies that weren’t written by veterans with lived experience but in a manner to line pockets. I’d like to put a stop to frivolous spending as I did while deployed, stopping private contractors from price gouging the American tax payers, and make sure we fund evidence-based supports for those who serve.

Here’s are a few questions to ask in hopes of understanding what’s going on:

  • Who’s more qualified to speak on military trauma? Civilians or the Veterans who’ve experienced it?
  • Who knows what Veterans are experiencing? A case manager or the Veterans themselves?
  • Who could best advocate for Veteran homelessness and mental health solutions? Organizations who have become “non-profit” silos or the Veterans?

If your answer was the Veterans for all three questions, then you are CORRECT! Unfortunately this is the world that I struggle against everyday. Civilians telling Veterans how they should feel, case managers telling Veterans what they are experiencing and organizations/contractors/landlords doing what they can to make every penny they can off our most vulnerable with absolutely no empathy because of policies we have in place that allow them too.

I’m blessed work in a field that truly understands people struggling with trauma, but I can only do so much from my current position and it’d be my honor to do so much more as your Representative. Thank you for your time, your support and your contributions. Hopefully we can do more work together to give our Veterans the better quality of life that they deserve.

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