Watching the behavior of Lee County politicians leads me to believe some of our elected officials may have an anti-military bias. Consider these three examples:
1. In 2010, the Lee County board of commissioners twice publicly deliberated ending their commitment to the multi-county pact looking to promote the area to military families and businesses moving here as part of BRAC (base realignment and closure initiative). In the end, they elected not to terminate the agreement, but the rhetoric in their discussions sure seemed anti-military or at least uninterested in seeing the local military population grow.
2. This past spring, several elected officials from the board of commissioners and the school board were observed going door-to-door and making calls to campaign against a local military retiree running for office. Some of these officials were from the same political party as that military retiree. Not one prominent politician from Lee County publicly endorsed or supported this retiree as he sought his party’s nomination; not even our most senior elected local politician, the sheriff.
3. For many months in 2009, the county did not have a veterans service officer (VSO) to support our hundreds of local ex-military and retired military members with their problems, even though we were entitled to a VSO and had one previously. I didn’t see any public officials taking or advocating action to fix the problem. Eventually, we received a replacement VSO, but not before many of our veterans suffered significant delays in important healthcare and benefits matters.
I keep looking for evidence that Lee County officials care about the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who faithfully served their country and who choose to live here as active duty service members or who contribute to our economy as permanent retirees. The absence of evidence leaves me with the distinct impression that our public servants really don’t cherish or value our active and retired service members, even though the military brings much needed economic vitality to this community.
Can you think of anything that sends a different signal to our military?
Still serving proudly…Deborah Samson