By- Rancho High School AFJROTC Peter Shin Photos by- Su Phelps
On March 27, 2018, the Nevada Democratic Veterans & Military Families Caucus hosted a Veterans Town Hall meeting for Veterans to have a chance to ask the candidates of district 4 questions on topics such as: jobs, security issues, health, and education.
The chairman of the Caucus: Mikey Kelly asked a question many Veterans were curious about, “One important responsibility as a member of congress, is to potentially authorize military force, the constitution grants you that responsibility to declare war and authorize the use of military force. Why should the Veterans community, military members and their families, in trust you to take a vote on the use of military force?”
Amy Vilela: replied by saying that they look at all other options before sending their troops to war such as marshal plan or economic support. They first understand why we are going to war, and why it’s necessary to have our involvement before sending in troops. She understands what other families go through because she went through the same situation as them.
Steven Horsford: replied by saying that he will never agree to sending men and women to war without knowing that their future is safe. He says “that it is the trust and responsibility of a member of congress.” If there is not enough justification, too much risk, and no plan, they should not support sending in a military force. During a situation, he was to take a vote to send in troops but said “no” when he knew the amount of risk they were taking and the lack of justification in that situation.
Allison Stephens: says that she would need to understand how any action would affect everyone. “The people here would be sending me to congress to represent them, and I need to understand how any action would impact people right here in CD4 to understand what would happen to our active military and their families.”
Patricia Spearman: says that we need to make sure there is an “economic development and leadership roles in place” by employing more G5 forces before going to war. She also says that we need to make sure we have the money for the veterans to get paid when they come back from war. “We can never go to war without using all of our diplomatic options.”
An Army veteran and a science major from CSN, asked the candidates “What is your record of engagement or working across party lines?” He said that “Veterans are not all of the same political party, but we all have the same issues and it takes two political parties to get things done for veterans.”
Amy Vilela: says that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. She says that “we can’t be running for things they like or dislike, we need to be running on policies that are going to be for the people.” “The most important issue is the working class and the people who are most vulnerable”.
Steven Horsford: “it does not matter about someone’s party affiliation, it matters that you are 1/677 constituent in this district, and I never ask for someone’s party affiliation when they call and ask for service or support. It’s about providing them with the constituent care and response that they deserve.”
Allison Stephens: she says that she is not focused on people’s political party, but focused on the issues that impact people in CD4. “I went around talking to people about the issues that they were facing, to understand if I could be a good representative for them, and never once did I ever hear someone say they want to see their party in power when asked about issues affecting their lives.”
John Anzalone: “I will continue to work closely with diverse populations as I always have whether I am in Washington or in Nevada.” He was on the committee that demanded the school board to put a policy in place for transgender students.
Patricia Spearman: says that it doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican. “Once people know that you are loyal, you are committed, and understand that we can speak the same language, there’s not a problem, there is no Democrat or Republican.”
Chairman Mikey Kelly says that it take months and years for veterans benefits applications to be processed. “What are you going to do about it?”
Steven Horsford: says that “we will help any veteran that contacts our office, because that’s what any office should do.” One of the things he committed to was to hire the right staff, a veteran liaison. He will hire someone who was a veteran that understand how the system does and does not work, so that issues can be helped.
Amy Vilela: says that “the first thing we need to do is to invest in making sure that the transition from active duty to the veteran’s status is easily accessed without having to wait for that.” She says that it takes way too long to help veterans get their benefits. “We need to do more for our members, get more training, and have a more open environment to ensure that they get the help they need.”
Allison Stephens: “As a member of congress, there is a responsibility to try and work out this bureaucracy, to try to understand what we need to do to remove all these barriers for all of our veterans.” “It is also important for me to understand what we need to do systemically.” “So that is what I would do, help those who contact me, but make sure we address the systemic issues with the veterans administration overall for all those benefits that have been earned.”
John Anzalone: “To me, the answer is twofold: utilizing our veterans and their experiences to build better technology to streamline the road to benefits.” He believes that using technology will help the process in getting veterans their benefits.
Patricia Spearman: “We need to put more money into the VA.” She says that “if we don’t have the money to hire the people necessary to make sure we get it done, then it’ll never happen.”
All the candidates then gave a 2 minute session of their beliefs and information about themselves, thus concluding the Town Hall meeting with the candidates of district 4.