Veterans serve our nation with honor. None of us did it for the money, the medals or the accolades. We are deployed to places where everyday citizens are oppressed, facing enemies that stand for tyranny and terror. We fight for love of country, for our families, and to protect and uphold freedom - the freedom to choose where you want to live, where your children study, what you do for a living, and how to live your life and pursue your own happiness. We serve because we understand how precious freedom is, and how quickly it can be taken away.
A veteran who has served their nation also brings experience to Washington that no career politician can. Ordering a man to clear a room, remove a bomb, or call for fire puts that soldier's life at risk. A platoon leader must understand that the decision they make has consequences far beyond the battlefield. Being a veteran is about sacrifice and service, and understanding that the decisions you make can have a far reaching impact.
Currently, just seven percent of Americans have served in uniform, while less than one percent currently defend us in the military. It's an honor to be among a group that has put their life on the line to protect our nation. Coming from a military family where my grandfathers, father, brother, and uncle all served, I know service runs in my blood and inspired by my family, I saw the good that Americans can do at home and across the globe. But I also know the cost.
While on a routine patrol in Afghanistan, I was badly injured by an IED, losing both legs below the knee. After 20 surgeries and years of rehab, I knew that I would no longer be able to serve my country in the same way, but I still wanted to give back and defend our nation's precious freedoms and fight for the people of Wisconsin. I also wanted to be a champion for my fellow veterans.
Having gone through the VA system, I understand firsthand the consequence of career politicians putting politics before the people they serve. The problems at the VA stem from politicians sacrificing the interest of veterans for political advancement. The issues exist because politicians allow the VA to be accountable to bureaucrats in Washington, and not the veteran back home. A disconnect exists between politicians who have never served, and the service members they send to war. A professional class of warfighters has engaged our enemies abroad, losing life and limb, while politicians sit behind their desks analyzing the next political move to win at the ballot box.
We can't let that continue in Washington.
For a veteran, the call to service is critical, and we learn numerous skills throughout our time in uniform, with the most important being leadership and serving for something greater than one's self. In 1977, approximately three in four members of congress served our nation in uniform, while today that number is only 18 percent. Currently, Washington D.C. is awash with career politicians who have spent decades climbing the political ladder.
Their experience is built upon back scratching and establishment coddling, often putting political calculations ahead of the country's best interest. That's not right.
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