Valuing our Veterans
I am proud of my service, both my time in the Ranger Regiment and today, in the Maryland National Guard. As a veteran with three combat deployments, I have a special interest in ensuring that the approximately 400,000 veterans living in Maryland are properly served. The Maryland Veterans Administration (VA), under the leadership of Secretary George Owings, serves veterans every day through providing resources for soldiers, sailors, and airmen returning to Maryland after they transition out of the service, especially those with recent combat deployments. I will advocate on behalf of all veterans and serve as a liaison to the Maryland VA.
22 veterans commit suicide every day. Even one suicide is too many. Personally, I have had five of my own soldiers attempt suicide, and unfortunately, several were successful. In addition to the small active-duty contingent, many of the 20,000 people employed at Pax River Naval Air Station are veterans. However, Pax NAS only has one part-time psychologist dedicated to serve the large population.
As a normal side-effect of our trade, soldiers, sailors, and marines develop PTSD and related symptoms both while serving and after returning home. The lack of services for these heroes is appalling. We must strengthen psychological support systems for them and other veterans in the community. The first step is working with federal leaders to get a full-time psychologist stationed at Pax.
Veterans are a significant portion of our homeless population. Sometimes the transition back to civilian life is made difficult simply because of the lack of affordable housing. This, together with poor job opportunities, lack of community involvement, and potential psychological issues, creates a downward spiral leading to homelessness. These people were willing to give their lives for us; we cannot simply ignore them. I will work hard, both locally and at the state levels, to correct this inequity, especially by supporting the building of the Patriot Springs Veteran Community.
Returning from War
The courageous men and women of our military and their families have made countless personal sacrifices to protect the freedoms we enjoy today. We must care for them as they return from war and transition from active duty. We must ensure that these people who have put their lives on the line for us are given a fair shake in Maryland. We must secure access to employment, health, housing, and education services for all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen as they transition into civilian life.