Bringing Veterans and Military Personnel into the Democratic Party

<b>Carla Mays with First Lady Michele Obama and her daughters packaging boxes for the troops at the 2008 DNCC Delegate Service Day event in Denver. The Orange County & San Diego Military and Veterans for Obama helped the First Lady's mother and brother prepare over 1,500 packages for troops in the Middle East.

Carla Mays with First Lady Michele Obama and her daughters packaging boxes for the troops at the 2008 DNCC Delegate Service Day event in Denver.

As Democrats, we need to support military families and veterans, and set aside the politics! For too long, we have not done well at separating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the troops who must fight them. As a result, we have been missing in action in outreach and philanthropic endeavors to the troops, veterans, and their families. No wonder Republicans dominate in the military and in military communities.

I find it personally very sad to see so many Democrats making the same mistakes they did during the Vietnam Era, placing blame for these wars on troops and their families. As a person who was born after Vietnam, I can only imagine what it was like then. But, while working with military families and veterans for the last two years on the Obama trail, it has been disheartening to see how some Democrats treat our fellow veterans and military families.

Being on the outside protesting or advocating for peace and only voicing verbal support without doing one thing to support troops and their families — and talking about the Department of Defense and Bush’s failed veteran policies — is NOT going to CHANGE or help military families and veterans! It does not advance the Peace Agenda; it only causes more partisanship and is living proof to the Right’s agenda!

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Look at it this way, we are nowhere around but Republicans are deeply rooted in all military communities — VFW, DAV, faith-based organization. You name it, they’re there. We have to be there, too!

This is our opportunity to change this by reaching out to families in need, working with Democrats to get beyond these ideological barriers, and answering Obama’s call to service with military families and veterans! It is time to create seats at the policy table and within our grassroots movements. I am proud of our new team of military family and veteran delegates to the California Democratic State Convention here in San Diego and Orange counties!

We must help these families and veterans NOW, and stop with the same arguments that only deepen the divide between the military and Democrats. Let’s be proactive, reach out, and serve! Don’t try to push your agenda, but instead serve with an open heart and mind. Our collective actions will speak for themselves. We need to serve military family agencies and nonprofits, do care package events, greet troops coming home, let them know we are Democrats, and support them and honor their service PERIOD! No commentary, just serve!

We must create opportunities for them to get involved in the Democratic Party, cultivate their leadership, and raise funds to support their advocacy. We have done this to much success with our organization, and are willing to help other Democrats do the same. This is Democratic military and veterans outreach OBAMA style! Be the CHANGE!

Carla Mays

Carla is a Blue Star military family member. Her grandfather, father, and half-sister served in the United States Army. She lives in Carlsbad, California outside of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corp. Base. She is a member of the Orange County & San Diego Military and Veterans for Change and the La Jolla Democratic Club & Orange County Central Committee Veteran’s Outreach. She was elected 2009-2010 CDP 74th Assembly District Delegate and 2008 DNCC Obama Pledged Delegate Congressional District 50.

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