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I have a veteran's first approach to my campaign and this is the main reason I am running for Congress. I am a veteran and am uniquely qualified to know what happens during service, deployments and after service. There are things that some people can't understand that are specific to veterans, like combat, years long deployments, blank check on your life, family separation, constant moving around the globe, attachment then ripping that apart to start over....The list goes on and on.

I want to highlight the veteran community and emphasize their value and equally their struggle. Veterans commit to unknowing circumstances that could end up costing them their lives. We give and we give, loyally following orders and serving a greater and higher purpose. The camaraderie and bond that establishes through service is the reason most join, stay, and consequently the reason most suffer when they part service.

We deploy to austere environments and too many never come home alive, while there, we bond so tightly with those around because we share the unknown and solidarity to be able to succeed in our mission and return to home and our loved ones. And the bond is also because we get each other through the day, one day at a time. Its not all bullets and trenches, there are long boring days that seem to be the same and never end. It is difficult. But we lean on each other and share and connect, giving hope and joy to one another and solidifying a relationship like no other.

This is why I say it is the reason we struggle when we leave service, and why I personally believe there is so much veteran suicide. When you leave you now integrate into a society of everyone, no longer is it just similar minded military sharing a journey. You now have to learn a new way of life, and sadly you won't get the bond and camaraderie you did while in uniform and more often than not you won't be part of serving a higher purpose. Veterans struggle with the loss of that purpose and connection, which leads to resentment, regret, loneliness, isolation, addiction, sadness and too often dark times from which some cannot recover.

I have struggled while serving, I have and continue to struggle after being retired. Do I regret my service, absolutely not. I have zero regrets and will always reflect positively on my military service and I would not be the man I am today without the United States Army! I was 24 when I enlisted and was technically a man, but I will be honest and candid I was an adult boy. Choosing to join the military and face that unknown, jump in and commit and go where the nation needed me was one of the scariest things I've ever done. I faced it head on, I loved it, I thrived in it. Over my career there were so many times I questioned what I was doing, I am still a human. However, I knew I was serving my country and faithfully doing what was asked of me. This is the call to serve, this is what drives every single person in uniform and drives those of us who want to continue to serve. The Army equipped me with a strong mind, strong body and the ability to face adversity and succeed. They taught me how to stand tall and proud and do what needs to be done for the betterment of those around. Serving in the military is all about everyone else, it is never about you. This is what makes military service so powerful and what makes veterans the most amazing part of our society. You will never regret having a veteran as your confidant.

Veterans also face extreme challenges such as homelessness, how often do you drive in whatever town or city and see a homeless man or woman, or family on the side with a sign and it says they are a veteran and anything helps? This reaches inside of us, inside the fabric of our country and pulls our hearts out. Why on God's green earth is a veteran that served our nation standing on the side of the road with no place to live, desperation in their eyes, relying on the salvation of man to keep them going just one more day. This has to end NOW. There are too many options available while serving to equip the service member to succeed on the outside. We have to do better in building the person while in to be a thriving member of society when they leave. Military members are assets, not tools. We need to ensure military leaders both civilians and uniform see their responsibility as not only winning wars first, but making sure those that win those wars can win the war at home and inside of themselves. Veterans are not disposable. I cannot form a reality in my heart or mind on why we are allowing them to be homeless. This is not an acceptable outcome, I will personally work with the entire country to find solutions to make sure this epidemic is eradicated from our society. We need people to serve our country, but we owe it to them to make sure when they get out of service they continue down a successful path of productivity and prosperity in their life as Americans.

In order to serve our military members and ensure their continued success we have to take care and equip them, but first and continually we need to make sure their access to health care is #1. The military has a very powerful and strong culture, and it should. The military exists to win wars - period! They do a lot, but ultimately they exist so our country can remain the most amazing country and be a beacon for the world. If we don't make sure people are physically and mentally healthy we won't have that combat force to win, nor will we have the society that will be there to support and continue growing our beautiful nation. There needs to be a culture of acceptance for seeking treatment, no matter the reason. We need to encourage both military and civilians to seek treatment for physical and mental care. If you break a bone there is no stigma for getting it fixed through surgery or a cast. So why is there a stigma if you struggle emotionally and want help but are afraid to seek it? This needs to change now. I feel like more leaders are breaking this barrier but we can do more. We need more advocates for veterans telling them it is ok, there is help. You will get better.

I will make it my priority to make sure veterans are seeking out health care while serving, and I will personally work with the Veteran's Administration to help fix backlogs, improve access for veterans, provide adequate funding, modern resources, modern treatment, better addiction and recovery facilities and a more robust mental health care system.

There are a lot of challenges facing our military and our veterans, but as a country we can collectively identify why these challenges exist and put effort, resources and programs in place to get in front of the problems. The resources and programs that do exist need support, there are so many people out there already working to help veterans. I want to be part of this, I want North Carolina to continue to be a part of this. Our military stood up for us and continue to do so, lets stand up for them and make sure they are taken care of and know what they mean to our country. Lets continue to FIGHT for our service members.

Tarazon 4 NC
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