Published on October 15th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor1
Ohio Veterans Network: Service That Our State Needs
This post is written by Zach Roberts, a Post-9/11 veteran who still serves as a first responder based in Columbus, Ohio. He serves as the lead organizer for the Ohio Veterans Network.
A deep commitment to service — it binds military members together while we’re in uniform and continues to inspire and guide us as veterans. This commitment to service gave us focus and resolve as we went to some of the most dangerous places around the world, seeking out those who would do our country harm and protecting those who could not defend themselves. It motivated us to continue our public service once we came home, inspiring us to serve our communities as teachers, first responders, volunteers, and countless other essential roles.
As veterans, we often limited our political engagement in the past to raising awareness to the unique needs of our community. However, as Ohio’s communities continue to work to recover from the Great Recession, we are seeing stark inequality from town to town and within our cities — with veterans and our families suffering alongside our neighbors.
As firmly-rooted members of Ohio’s working class and middle class communities, we have seen our cost of living continue to go up, with no real wage increase to offset. Our policymakers are refusing to address our state’s runaway healthcare costs. Instead, they actually try to find ways to make it more difficult for us to access quality, affordable healthcare.
Our state government has refused to return the funding that it raided from the state’s municipal fund, forcing communities across the state to put levies on the ballot just to be able to maintain existing services we need for our municipalities and schools.
Enough is enough.
Ohio’s veterans want the same things as every Ohioan — to be able to make a decent living and to provide for their families. Our state and local policymakers directly impact our ability to achieve these goals, and that is why a veteran’s voice is needed in the public debate — not just to advocate for the needs of our constituency, but for all of us as Ohioans.
This is why we are creating the Ohio Veterans Network, an organizing effort focused on galvanizing our state’s military community in order to speak out and fight for necessary policy change on the local and state level. Our midterm elections are critical for veterans, our families, and our neighbors alike.
In the weeks remaining until the election, OVN will be crisscrossing the state to bring attention to these issues. We will focus on how the candidates seeking public office stack up on policies to improve to the lives of everyday Ohioans. Following the election, we will continue to shine a light on these issues at the Ohio Statehouse in order to ensure that our policies serve the needs of veterans, our families, friends and neighbors alike.