Veterans Townhall with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard

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By: Su Phelps & Megan Way | Photos by Su Phelps
Democratic presidential candidate and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard visited Veterans Village on May 11th for a tour of Veterans Village and a veterans townhall to meet the local public, listen to their stories and answer their questions.
After Founder of Veterans Village, Dr. Arnold Stalk gave Tulsi the grand tour, the room flooded with people and became standing room only with everyone waiting to listen to Tulsi. Mike Kelly, Chair of Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Family Caucus (NDVMFC) first welcomed the congresswoman for taking the time for the townhall. Whilst recognizing the majority of veterans in the room he told Tulsi, “We have higher expectations because you’re one of us, you share our hopes, our dreams, our anxieties and the fears that we have. You’ve been there, you’ve been in the sock just like many of us have.”
Tulsi started by talking about her own service and the values that doing service brings. “We [in the military] come from all parts of this country. Every race, ethnicity, orientation, religion, all walks of life coming together, and we wear that same uniform and that same flag on our shoulder. Each of us made that commitment to put service above self, willing to put our life on the line on service to our country; It is that focus on that mission of service, those values of service above self, that I seek to bring to the White House.”
One of the first people to speak was from Caesar Lopez, who asked Tulsi to sponsor a bill for him, “I been deported for six years, I don’t have any ID, the government took everything from me; Since I don’t have any protection at all I’m asking if you could sponsor a bill for me.” He then tells everyone the day he got deported, “I always considered myself American, I grew up In America. When I’ve been called wetback and I’ve been called everything, it never bothered me. What bothered me was on January 16, 2013 when the judge told me I was a threat to the nation, that I was a criminal and that I was a terrorist and that is why he was removing me from the country; For them to tell me I’m not an American and that I’m a terrorist and then expel me from my country, it’s the worst thing anyone ever did to me.” Tulsi responded saying she knew the Governor of New Mexico, “I know the governor of New Mexico, we’ve served together in congress, and I look forward to meeting her and to work with her to do all we can to help you.”
Su Phelps, President of Society of Military Widows Chapter 34, asked Tulsi about her stance on the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset. “I understand that our President just voted down for us, but I do believe our SBP is from our husband and purchased for their wives. The DIC is for the widows, who deserve that benefit from their husband, but at this moment all the widows who have DIC and or SBP but couldn’t receive the benefits because they offset that. How would you stand for that?”
Tulsi’s responded, “I would not stand for that. The laying down of one’s life in service to our country is a sacrifice made by that individual, their family and loved ones. When we see what happened now, where once again there’s not enough money to make it so those gold star families and those gold star widows to get the benefits they earned through that sacrifice and service from their loved one.”
To end the event Dr. Arnold Stalk and Mrs. Stalk present a U.S.A. flag to Tulsi as a gift.