I am an unapologetic lefty! If you follow my Poliwood Round-Ups at all this is not a shock to you. However, lefties get a bad rap! Rethugs try and paint us as un-American socialists who want to hug trees all day, teach our kids about “gaydom” in school, and erect a statue to the founder of Atheism on the National Mall. This however, couldn’t be further from the truth…oh except for the “gaydom” part, I’m totally into that *wink*.
Consequently, I believe that standing up to defend the rights of all people to experience the beauty and majesty that this country has to offer shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but alas it is. Up until this week I felt like it was the lefties vs. the righties when it came to preserving the beauty and health of our environment— until I had the pleasure of meeting “Green Vets”.
During Great Outdoors America Week (GOAW) this past week (recognition of the importance of the great outdoors to our health as a nation). I had the distinct honor of leading a delegation of pro-environment military veterans around the Hill and I must say that the experience while brief had a profound impact on my understanding of what the men and women who serve this country really give up and the importance of the great outdoors for their re-entry into civilian life and recovery from the battle zone.
The Right would have us believe that all military personal think the same and act the same…and in battle I can understand the need to be “one”, but in life these are individuals who have sacrificed their lives and limbs to not only protect our freedom of democracy, but also to defend our public lands and green spaces as well… a Rethuglican nightmare for sure!
The men I worked with during GOAW shared compelling if not heartbreaking stories about how the outdoors saved their lives once they returned to the U.S. wounded from battle. These men told stories of being on the verge of suicide, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, losing limbs—all to defend and protect this great nation of ours. Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Military Family and Veteran Affairs Coordinator and former U.S. Army Captain said it best “I didn’t go to war and swear to protect our land so private companies could extract precious minerals from it. Our public lands are a greatest VA benefit and should be used for respite and recovery.” I couldn’t agree with Mr. Bare more and what made my blood boil while listening to him and the other veterans stories was how Republicans use the military for political gain during campaign season but then want to cut the very programs and green spaces that will aid them in their recovery!
We need serious people in charge of this country who are willing to protect and serve this beautiful and diverse nation…not just the parts they deem worthy or see fit! These veterans taught me a lot this week about duty, honor, and this country.
It is an honor to be a citizen of a country where you can walk through the halls of Congress and voice your concerns and ideas on how to make this country better, and it is our duty as Americans to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and ensure that not only our lands are protected but that the health and well being of our fellow citizens are protected as well.
Thank you to Stacy, Chris and Scott for reminding me of the power of stories and the importance of standing up for our right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, climb glorious mountains and enjoy the beauty of the Great American Outdoors!