I owe a tremendous debt to the military. I am the proud daughter of a veteran, an Army 82nd Airborne Ranger, who was twice deployed to Vietnam. Early on in life, I learned the value of service and honor because I saw it up close in my father, who instilled those values in me. The military also became a support system that cared for my family after my father passed away and provided me with opportunities that changed the trajectory of my life. It’s because of this debt that I’ve dedicated my life to public service, giving back to my community here in Cumberland County, and why I’m running to represent North Carolina’s 8th Congressional district.
It is not fair for our country to ask for the kind of sacrifices required of our service members and their families, and then fail to uphold our promises to them. Time and time again, our leaders in Washington have failed to deliver on their promise, but I will put our military community’s needs at the forefront of my agenda.
The Veterans Affairs Department, an organization that my father depended on, currently has about 50,000 personnel vacancies. These staffing shortages make delivering quality, timely services to veterans more difficult during regular times, and has crippled the institution during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of late-September 2020, there were more than 3,000 active COVID-19 cases in the VA, with more than 3,300 deaths (including 56 employee deaths). It is absolutely unacceptable that the brave men and women who’ve risked their lives abroad are now dying at home because of failed leadership that’s kept their health care system understaffed and undersupplied.
But it’s not enough to just care for our veterans and active duty service members. Growing up with a father who was twice deployed to Vietnam, and with a mother who served as the primary caregiver, I know that when a service member serves, their family serves with them. Far too often, I meet military families who are struggling with the stress and challenges of having an active duty service member while also juggling the challenges of work responsibilities and child care needs brought on by the pandemic. Military families from all over Cumberland County need leaders who understand their struggles.
The voters of Cumberland County have my commitment that I will champion a well-staffed and well-funded Veterans Affairs department that: expands mental health services, addresses the alarming rates of suicide among our veterans, and receives COVID-19 funding that is specific to its needs. I will also always fight to make sure that our military families have access to high-quality healthcare, and that the educators of military children are well-equipped and well-trained to understand the unique experiences these children face.
It doesn’t stop there. Our veterans and military families will need a partner in the White House that respects and honors them, someone that knows from personal experience what it means to have a member of your family be deployed. We need a Commander-in-Chief that recognizes the heroism of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, not one that calls them “losers” and “suckers.” Joe Biden is the right person for the job, for this moment.
This year has been tough on everyone, but it’s been especially tough for the thousands of families in Cumberland County who have been left behind and disrespected by leaders who simply don’t care to understand their reality. I grew up right here in Cumberland County, and I know the struggles and the resilience of this community. It’s time to bring change to Washington, and for our county to be represented by leaders who keep their promises.
Pat Timmons-Goodson is a former associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She is now running for Congress for North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.
Pictured: Patricia Timmons-Goodson