My experience as a service family member gives me a passion for teaching gun safety as a health issue. I earned my Home Care Aide license in WA State, and have worked as a Caregiver in an unlicensed capacity all my life.
I served as Cemetery Commissioner in Milan District #5 Spokane County, WA as a Libertarian Party member from 1999-2001. One of the most heart breaking things about my service was helping family members whose young loved one was killed due to senseless drunk driving or violence. At the time, I lived in Riverside Trailer Park in Chattaroy. It seems the rural areas face identical challenges to urban areas. For example, on 9/11, every young person in our trailer park volunteered Military service, much like people of color with lesser means. Military values are different than civilian life, and we are a communal people. Yet there must come a day when we stop sending young people around the world to kill one another.
I believe we should send them around the world to learn from one another, and build a global infrastructure for sanitation, education, health, and nutrition. I am one of the lucky ones whose loved one came home from Afghanistan. Others were not so lucky. I note with heart break at every Memorial Day gathering, the Gold Star families are African-American, Latino, or Appalachian American, meaning white folks living on rural land or in trailer parks, not suburbs. I am not angry at other white folks with greater financial means, but I hope they will help us out. This is injustice. No amount of money can bring back our loved ones, and we appeal to the wisdom of the powers that be to resolve conflict by reason alone. I believe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. really stuck his neck out during the Vietnam War to note that it was always those thought to be “poor” who got sent to the front lines of battle. I say poor is the person who believes money is more valuable than health. Surely killing one another in combat is unhealthy, yet still necessary at this stage of human evolution.
President Obama was correct that hope is a necessary ingredient for change. I agree. Yet hope is not a strategy. We must employ all our resources to overcome stale governance styles and unrealistic punishments, censorships, and dehumanizing views of one another. We must listen to young people and people of color to build a strategy where we stop playing the blame game and simply solve problems. I am highly impressed with the work First Lady Obama and Dr. Jill Biden did to streamline professional licensure for Military families. I believe President and First Lady Trump did a good thing passing the VA Mission Act into law to help Caregivers. This must not stop here. A nation that doesn’t take care of its Military and Veterans will cease to exist, and the delta between Military and civilian values must close.
Although I was raised in the American South, often times around a great deal of hatred, I often found in public school those teachers who were most compassionate toward me were African-American. I continue to shed my fear of Black Power, and enjoy learning African-American history and literature. Although Mother calls me a Right Wing Maniac, I honestly believe us country white folks would be better off if we pulled with the change instead of pushed against the change. We must build a dominant culture where all lives have equal value so no one enters death before their natural time. I hope one day there will be no terms like First World and Third World. I believe Black Folks have the authority on this, and it’s time for us Appalachian Americans to trust and obey them. Simple and plain. I give up hatred in my heart, and calm it down and repent when it comes up. Let’s just not lie about it here. Hatred is the original global pandemic, and its only cure is vigilant commitment and awareness to improving one’s self.
In 1997, I won the Wesley Ryals Creative Writing Award from my Alma Mater, Florida Southern College. In 2000, I won the Friends of the Cœur d’Alene Public Library contest. My entire vocation is to complement our monetary economy with a resource based economy, where health is valued as the greatest wealth.
Thank you for joining me here. Thanks for listening.