Joey Strickland

Ducey dodges veterans

Arizona needs a leader who will stand up for veterans. Our men and women in uniform are coming home in droves. Phoenix has been the eye of storm in the VA scandal. We just committed to fight another conflict in Iraq. Now more than ever, we need a leader who provides real solutions for our community’s veteran population.

The two candidates for governor of our state were given an unprecedented opportunity this year to step up for us. They were both invited to the first-ever Arizona gubernatorial veteran-focused general election debate. At this event, they would have had the chance to tell us what they were going to do for veterans. Doug Ducey told us he had something more important to do that night.

This deeply troubles me. But it does not surprise me. Mr. Ducey talks a good game of supporting veterans, but he has yet to commit to a single piece of legislative support for us.

As the former director of the Arizona Department of Veteran Services, I can attest that it takes a great deal of work and commitment from our government to care for our veterans. You can’t just wave a flag and smile to fix problems.

When young troops would come to me and say they were struggling with school, if I had offered a handshake without a solution, it may as well have been a slap in the face. When I would talk to homeless vets, telling them “welcome home” without a commitment to helping them get back on their feet may as well have been slamming the door on them. When my fellow Vietnam-era veterans would tell me about the challenges at the VA, it would have been unforgiveable if I responded with silence. Perhaps most importantly, when I was a soldier and my commander would tell me to attack the enemy, I did not have the luxury of telling him that I was too busy.

This is why I am endorsing and supporting Fred DuVal for governor. He has a solid plan for how to care for our veterans. He was only too happy to attend the debate to lay out what he would do. He is committed to real solutions for our community. Read his plan at fred2014.com/images/download/veterans-plan.pdf and see for yourself.

We need someone who steps up for us, not someone who hides behind the flag. And Mr. Ducey, I would encourage you to check out Fred’s plan too. You can see what a real “thank you for your service” looks like.

• Retired U.S. Army Col. Joey Strickland is the former director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services.

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