Issues

Veterans

     As a Combat Veteran I am bias when it comes to the care and needs of our fellow Veterans.  All Veterans, at the time of enlistment, wrote to our nation a blank check payable for an amount “up to including their life.” This statement is a testament to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.  I personally carry a list of names of those Veterans that I have served alongside, that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. It is a constant reminder of why, as a nation, we must take care of those who place their lives in harm’s way to defend us all.

As a nation we must fulfill the promises that encouraged our young men and women to serve.  If we spend trillions fighting our nation’s wars, we must be ready to provide for the needs of those same men and women and their families when they return home. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs must be properly funded and staffed to provide the care they deserve.  Each county should have a Veteran’s Center so that Veterans, at a minimum, can receive needed counseling locally to ward off the demons of battle.  We have to look at alternatives (i.e. medicinal marijuana) for pain management and the treatment of PTSD. Our wounded warriors deserve no less.

 

Social Security

Our population is living longer than ever and as a result more individuals are retiring on a daily basis while the numbers paying into the Social Security trust fund are decreasing. With projected shortfalls in benefits as early as the year 2034, some hard decisions must be made.  We will need to consider the alternatives necessary to make corrections.  Possible solutions include raising the ceiling on the amount of income subject to withholding, increase the 6.2 tax percentage withheld for the individual and employers and or reducing benefits. Reducing benefits would bring the most harm as studies have shown that the majority of Americans are not prepared for retirement and social security benefits may be their sole source of income. For many Americans raising the amount subject to withholding will have the least impact, as 90 % earn below the $128,400 taxable maximum.

Criminal Justice Reform

In recent years funding has been provided for accountability courts. Accountability courts provide treatment for those involved in the criminal justice system with substance abuse, mental health and or issues brought on by service in the military.  The accountability courts have been very successful in reducing recidivism and attacking the core issues responsible for bringing its participants before the court, returning its participants to the community as productive tax paying members. These courts need to be expanded and that expansion will need to be funded.   This initial investment will reap the benefits of lower numbers incarcerated at all levels.

Key to criminal justice reform will be placing an emphasis on the front end for our young men and women.  Providing mentors, activities and guidance, allowing our youth to grow up and fulfill their potential. Many of our young men and women are raising themselves and learning about life from the wrong individuals.  To prevent this, funding must be provided for after school activities, boys and girls clubs, police athletic leagues and other similar programs. Once again, this requires an upfront investment in our youth, one that will pay dividends, as our youth will receive the direction and guidance needed to be good upstanding citizens.

We need to adequately fund our public defender programs to ensure that the needs of defendants, who are otherwise placed at a distinct disadvantage in our criminal justice system, are being met. Too often the perception of inequality exists at all levels of the criminal justice system.  For our minority populations that perception is their reality. By properly funding public defender offices we can reverse that perception and in doing so improve the relationship between our minority communities and the criminal justice

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