It is incumbent upon the American people to remember at all times the accomplishments and sacrifices of the men and women who have are serving and have served in the American military forces. They deserve our respect for their devotion to the cause of defending the United States. It is, however, especially during times when our forces are engaged in conflict overseas that we focus upon rededicating ourselves to our commitments to support them.
It is essential that we are very cautious in engaging our military forces in action overseas. I do not believe that prolonging our occupation of Iraq is consistent with our national interests. I believe that the current administration is demonstrating disregard for the lives and wellbeing of the members of the United Stares military by continuing to demand of them that they remain there. As a Congressman I will vote to ensure that our forces have the equipment required for their military tasks. I will also be a prominent voice insisting that American lives be put in jeopardy only when it is required.
We must dedicate ourselves to guaranteeing that when our forces do return that they and other veterans have full and guaranteed access to health care including mental health care. In this context we must appreciate the special trials that those who have participated in military actions confront. We must commit ourselves to ensuring that they have full access to employment and educational opportunities. We must listen to their voices as they share the events that they experienced and the challenges that they face. Nothing can be as discouraging to our troops as the prospect that they will be denied the benefits that they have earned.
The incumbent Republican Representative does not share my commitment to our troops and our veterans. This is not my opinion alone. It is the opinion of veterans and their organizations throughout the United States. How do I know? Because they have told me in person and by e-mail. One can easily document that they regard the incumbent as an enemy of veterans through a search of online materials. There one can find the evidence for the rudeness with which the incumbent has treated veterans and the consternation that veterans feel because of that behavior.
When I was running as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative in the 4th District in 2004, numerous members of national veterans organizations expressed their concerns that the incumbent Congressman was going to be installed by Tom Delay as the Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. At that time the information was conveyed in confidence, and I did not make it public. The organizations were worried about antagonizing the potential incoming Chairman and remained silent.
They are silent no more. The incumbent Congressman has fulfilled their worst nightmares. Veterans throughout the country are wondering how the 4th District could possibly continue to reelect someone who has so betrayed the cause of veterans. They feel as if they have been stabbed in the back.
The incumbent will bluster that only he is a veteran and that I am questioning his military service and that only a veteran can have the interests of his fellow veterans at heart. The Congressman has demonstrated thoroughly the falseness of that last statement. I do not question his military service in the dental corps (coincidentally he comes from a family of dentists) or as a lawyer.
Veterans vividly remember their service to our country, and the American public should remember it as well. Veterans remember the disrespect with which they have been treated by the incumbent Congressman, and it would be well for the voters of the 4th District to remember this fact when they go to the polls on Election Day.