From Fort Bragg to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is proud to be home to many of our nation’s service members, veterans, and military families.
Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the United States and is home to approximately 57,000 military personnel. Camp Lejeune and the surrounding community are home to approximately 170,000 people, comprising an “active, dependent, retired and civilian population”. Overall, North Carolina has the fifth largest military presence in the nation and is home to 100,000 active duty service members in addition to approximately 725,000 veterans.
As a veteran who served in the military from 1971 to 1973 in Vietnam and Cambodia, I know firsthand how much active duty service members, in addition to veterans and military families, have sacrificed in the service of defending our country and people’s lives. Veterans benefits are therefore not only deserved, but essential to support the men and women in uniform and their families who put everything on the line to keep us safe.
Republican lawmakers, including U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Representative Ted Budd, are threatening benefits for North Carolina veterans and military families by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, exposing their hypocrisy.
Despite Republicans racking up nearly $8 trillion in bills under President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was adamantly against defaulting on US debt just two years ago. in 2019. But now that there is a Democratic president, McConnell is using the debt limit as political football.
If the Republicans get what they want, it could bring down our recovering economy, cost six million American jobs, jeopardize Social Security payments, and delay paying our military.
It’s personal – to me and the countless veterans and military families of North Carolina. That’s why we deserve to know where the other Republican candidates for the US Senate stand. Ted Budd’s refusal to suspend or increase the debt ceiling and instead risk the recovery of the economy and the services needed by the people of North Carolina is insulting, and if Pat McCrory and Mark Walker don’t speak against him, they send a clear message to North Carolina. veterans and military families. We deserve a senator who will stand up for us, not a senator who will give in to partisan pressure when the going gets tough.
While all of this may be a game for Republicans in Washington, it plays with the livelihoods of veterans and military families in North Carolina. Not only do these benefits help provide health care, financial assistance and other essential programs to veterans, but they also serve as an acknowledgment of our nation’s debt of gratitude for all that the men and women in uniform of our country give up protecting us all.
Enough with the political games. President Biden outlined what’s at stake for the country if Republicans continue to block Democratic efforts to lower the debt limit and avert economic catastrophe. The savings and pocketbooks of working families, including the benefits of North Carolina’s veteran and military families, could be directly hit by this Republican stunt. Playing politics with people’s lives – especially those who have given us so much – is wrong, immoral and unpatriotic.
Willie Fleming is a veteran who served in the military from 1971 to 1973 in Vietnam and Cambodia. He served as Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party African American Caucus and State Chairman of the African American Caucus. He is also the founder of the International Minority Coalition and recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award.