The 10th is home to more veterans than any other district in the state and by 2027, Washington State will have the 10th highest population of veterans in the nation. Our heroes deserve an outspoken advocate for service members and their families.
As the twin sister of a combat veteran and as the Statewide Veterans Representative for U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Director of the Military Defense Sector in Governor Inslee’s Commerce Department, I have served military families and businesses in the South Sound on a daily basis for more than a decade.
I have worked on veterans’ health care, improving military transition and workforce development and have helped secure millions of dollars in federal grants to improve private sector job growth, support military personnel transitioning to private sector jobs, and support the 1900+ small businesses in the defense sector supply chain during Department of Defense downsizing.
While working for Senator Murray, I worked to address “bad-paper” discharges due to PTSD, supported increased services and access at American Lake and the Seattle VA, and I was a key partner in building military service member-to-civilian transition programs that have become national models for connecting servicemembers to private sector job opportunities and reducing veterans’ unemployment.
As a state representative, I founded the first Veterans and Military Families caucus in the legislature to create bi-partisan support for our veterans, service members and their families; passed legislation in support of wounded warriors in state service, pushed for transparency in state licensure for veterans, took on community-military land use compatibility, and fought against discrimination of military spouses and for increased childcare access and affordability for military families. I advocated for full funding of our state veterans’ homes and support for our failing national guard infrastructure.
In Congress, I will continue to be a knowledgeable, compassionate and effective advocate for military families and veterans.
- Keep our promise to those who serve. Caring for service members and veterans can never be a partisan issue. I will urge the next administration to nominate an experienced and respected secretary of the VA who will ensure United States military veterans receive the financial, legal, and emotional support they deserve. We must not allow the VA to be privatized and veteran care sold to the lowest bidder.
- Care for the wounds of war. Approximately 18.5% of U.S. servicemembers who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq currently have post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and 19.5% report experiencing a traumatic brain injury during deployment. Roughly half of those who need treatment for these conditions seek it, but only slightly more than half who receive treatment get adequate care. When I am in Congress, I will help increase the number of highly trained mental health providers, provide telehealth in underserved areas, and reduce barriers to high-quality, evidence-based care within the VA.
- Increase opportunities for veterans.We owe so much to our courageous veterans and I am committed to providing extra assistance to servicemembers who choose to transition into civilian careers.Many veterans have received military training in a trade and need only a few additional hours or an additional course to be eligible for a license. Unfortunately, they are often required to start over, incurring substantial costs and delaying much-needed employment. By providing expanded education benefits through the GI bill, streamlining licensure, increasing opportunities for trade apprenticeships that honor the experiences of service, and incentivizing the private sector to hire vets, we can get our vets to work!
- Protect military families. Military families make great sacrifices for American security and prosperity. Frequent moves and deployments contribute to higher rates of unemployment and underemployment among military spouses and when employed, military spouses earn 26.8% less than their counterparts. I will work to increase childcare opportunities for military families, reduce discrimination against military spouses, and create portable licensure across state lines.
- Support our National Guard. Our Washington National Guard is playing a key role in the coronavirus response, supporting food banks and tracking the virus for the Department of Health. When I am in Congress, I will fight for stronger USERRA protections so the citizen service members of our National Guard cannot be discriminated against for stepping up to help Washingtonians during this crisis.