Honoring Those Who Served
We owe our veterans a deep debt of gratitude for their service. Sam has family members and close friends who have served our country and holds a deep respect for the service of all those who have put on a uniform. In our district, we have thousands of veterans who have served across generations. Its imperative we honor their service.
The best way to support our veterans is to build strong communities. This means protecting the freedoms that so many have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend. It means making sure the next generation has the same opportunities right here at home that our veterans fought to protect. Whether it’s as basic as public safety in Walnut or access to affordable and high-quality health care for their families in Fullerton, the best way to honor our veterans is to lift up and strengthen our communities.
Supporting our veterans also means building an infrastructure to support them as they come home, guaranteeing high quality services at the Veterans Administration and honoring their service by helping them enter the middle class. Here are Sam’s priorities for supporting our veterans:
Create a Path to the Middle Class for Veterans: Our veterans served to protect the American Dream. We must make the American Dream available to them. This starts with making sure our veterans have a job when they return home. In Congress, Sam will work to guarantee a job for those who served. This starts by making sure our veterans are trained for jobs in emerging sectors, like solar. While working in the solar industry, Sam helped set up programs with the industry and veterans groups to provide job training in solar and recruit on military bases. Today, 11% of the solar workforce nationally have served – even as veterans represent roughly 7% of the overall population. Sam will also work to provide funding for veterans job training in new technological skills like coding and create incentives for companies to hire veterans if they are seeking government contracts for infrastructure projects. We must also connect our veterans with apprenticeship programs in the skilled trades, especially as we begin to see retirements in the baby boomer generation.
End Veterans Homelessness: Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and have stood for American values. To honor this service, Congress must eradicate veteran’s homelessness. This is a tragedy all too real in our community and we must put an end to it. In Congress, Sam will propose funding to support Veterans Administration (VA) programs that will ensure homeless veterans, especially those with mental health issues, receive the treatment they deserve. He will drive resources towards community-based programs that can help veterans get back on their feet and work with the Department of Defense to help veterans find a job prior to leaving service. He will also work with local city and state leaders to leverage federal resources to help find housing for homeless veterans.
Fund and Improve the Veterans Administration: The VA must meet the highest standards of service. Today, there are veterans waiting months for an appointment. When Sam worked as a Chief of Staff in Congress, he saw that the only way many veterans received an appointment was if they called their Member of Congress. While Sam was always willing to provide a helping hand, its unacceptable that veterans have to fight for the services they earned. Even more problematic is the fact that many of those seeking care have just returned from combat zones and now face a daunting VA bureaucracy. This will become even more of a challenge as Congress faces tighter budgets. We must make sure the VA is fully funded to hire claims processors, modernize its appointment system and service veterans more closely after they have returned home to ensure that they are appropriately cared for.
Advocate for Increased Mental Health Funding for Veterans: 23 veterans commit suicide every day. This is a tragedy that we must address. It is essential that we provide funding for mental health services for our veterans. We also must raise awareness of PTSD and the various treatment options available. Our veterans have sacrificed so much that we cannot let them down. Sam will advocate for funding for housing for those suffering from mental health issues so we can help them get back on their feet. In Congress, Sam will work with our local veterans groups to raise awareness and provide the necessary resources to tackle mental health challenges faced by our veterans.
Support the Orange County Veterans Cemetery: There are 133,000 veterans in Orange County with roughly 7,000 coming in to our community annually. Orange County is the only county in California without a veterans cemetery. While the proposed site is in Irvine, our local veterans will be impacted by the upcoming decision on this site. Sam stands with veterans advocates and leaders across Orange County in support of the cemetery. In Congress, Sam will advocate for a federal designation and funding so we may honor those who have served our nation.
Provide a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Veterans: If you are an immigrant, who has served our country, you should be provided an expedited path to citizenship upon exiting service. It is sad to hear the story of so many veterans who joined our military under the promise of a path to citizenship, but, upon returning, they are not provided the guidance and resources to begin the naturalization process. This leads to some of these veterans becoming undocumented and facing deportation. Another variation of this issue is that we have veterans who serve overseas and return home only to see a loved one facing deportation. We must allow our active duty military and veterans the opportunity for an expedited petition for naturalization for their immediate family.
Honor all those who serve: As a civil rights attorney, Sam stands against discrimination and will fight any attempts by the Trump Administration to ban transgender troops or roll back protections for LGBTQ soldiers. While working as a Counsel in the U.S. Senate, Sam worked on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This is why Sam will be an advocate for inclusion in our military. Our troops make immense sacrifices to serve our country. We should honor this service and not foster discrimination.