Veterans are conservative, right?
Not all of us are. In fact, many of the veterans separated from military service in the last several years have been trending more liberal, but the majority identify as moderate. Here in California’s 25th Congressional District, we love our vets. Here in Santa Clarita, we put banners on lampposts with names and pictures of soldiers and veterans from the Santa Clarita Valley. Our local military recruiting station rarely hurts for recruits.
There’s no question that we as a community love our military veterans. We just love them a little more as an election nears. Every candidate for every office will have a plank in their platform that explains how they feel about veterans. Most are pretty boilerplate and generally focus on healthcare. Some are better and include issues that vets have to struggle with. Amongst the younger veterans, education benefits top the list. Many older veterans would like somebody to do something about dental care benefits. Can ANYBODY give me a good reason why President Trump can order up a $92 million parade, but the VA won’t include dental in our healthcare benefits?
Every two years, it amuses me that Election Day immediately precedes Veterans Day. As candidates campaign, they like to use veterans to get more votes. We get requests for interviews, photo shoots and the like. As soon as the election is over, then boom — it’s Veterans Day. We get the obligatory “Thank you for your service” and then… nothing. Many vets feel like human shields around election time and I am no exception to that. I’ve been asked why I continue to show up for these candidates. The answer is fairly simple: It’s service. Those of us who served our country in the armed forces are still willing to serve our community, our state, and our country in any way we can. That’s why we do it. The overwhelming majority of veterans will always show up to serve when asked.
So, what can we do in between? We can stay plugged in with other veterans. For instance, older vets feel right at home at AFL or VFW halls scattered around the district. I’ve never been too comfortable hanging out in bars, so that leaves me out of AFL or VFW. There is a Veterans’ Breakfast on Tuesday mornings in Lancaster. I confess I’ve never been; that’s a little too early for me. Maybe we should have a weekly here in SCV, preferably something in the evening. Maybe I’ll get something like that going if there is an interest. But otherwise, we can connect online at RallyPoint, Together We Served, or Military.com. They’re basically Facebook for veterans. If you are the Twitter-type, VoteVets and Seth Moulton’s Common Defense are pretty active in the Twittersphere.
We can also stay connected with candidates of our choice. I choose Democrats, others prefer Republicans — no judgment here. The goal should be the same though. Veterans need to educate local candidates. I quite often contend that “I am a single-issue voter. Veterans’ issues.” Except that all issues are veterans’ issues, as they eventually affect veterans at some point. However, we do have veteran-specific issues that the civilian world is entirely unaware of.
Let’s change that, shall we?
To connect with Gretchen Zovak, please email [email protected]
Gretchen Zovak is a veteran living in the Santa Clarita Valley.