Kash Jackson for Governor of Illinois
Proper care of our veterans is paramount to me. As a veteran myself, I consider veterans’ issues and their access to healthcare a top priority. There are obligations to veterans that we have made as a state and as a federal government, and we must live up to those obligations. Furthermore, the government should be mandated to fund the promises they made to veterans. At the same time, we must look for the best possible solutions to the problems facing our veteran programs today. I am willing to consider and evaluate every option on the table.
One of the top areas of concern is veteran homelessness. Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless on any given night in this nation, and over 20 veterans commit suicide every single day. These are issues that we must come together as a community to address. Proper mental health care to veterans must be expanded in order to meet the mental health needs of veterans. More specifically, I recommend expansion of mental health programs by both public and private health care systems to provide necessary care and outreach to those veterans needing treatment (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5563010/). I will work to protect military pension benefits as service members make unique sacrifices through their deployments and the physical and mental trauma that is often associated with military service.
Also, through my own activism and research, I have found that a huge factor contributing to veteran homelessness is the struggle to pay child support obligations (https://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/ssvf/docs/Veteran_HHS_VA_ABA_Collaboration.pdf). Too many veterans are pushed out of their homes because they cannot afford child support. This especially resonates with me because I have personally struggled with the decisions adjudicated through the family court system. I relate to their struggles because I struggle with this issue as well. As governor, I will fight to change policy that currently straddles financially inequitable child support payments to veteran parents who are burdened with an amount they cannot afford to pay. Military disability pay should be 100% protected. The proper procedure for an ex-spouse is to apply for apportionment through the Secretary of the VA.
Providing job opportunities to veterans is crucial as they reintegrate into civilian society. One of the best things we can do for them here in Illinois is to foster a job friendly environment that will provide opportunities for veterans once they come home. As Governor, this would be one of my main objectives. Specifically, I will work to continue the “Recruit and Hire a Veteran” program as facilitated by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Pages/Veteran_Services.aspx). I will also continue to support policy and legislation that offers incentives for hiring veterans such as tax credits currently available to employers who hire veterans.
Illinois is experiencing an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at the veterans’ home in Quincy. This is one example of how we are failing in providing adequate medical care to veterans. Recent media coverage abounds on exposing the inadequacy of health care to veterans, whether through unsanitary medical supplies to a dearth of medical facilities and staff https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/may/14/privatizing-the-va/;https://www.cnn.com/2014/01/30/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/index.html; https://freopp.org/achieving-health-care-independence-for-veterans-62e0bd7c8947). The health care system to veterans is crumbling. In an effort to address these issues, I support the use of vouchers for veterans to seek healthcare in the private sector. Currently, the Veterans Choice Program gives veterans vouchers to seek care if the wait time is over a month or if a veteran lives too far from a VA healthcare facility. This type of voucher system can be expanded to include more veterans thereby giving them more of a choice in meeting their healthcare needs.
About my service: I entered the U.S. Navy on August 19, 1996. My tours included: USS Nebraska (Gold Crew); Naval Recruiting District New Orleans; Detachment Undersea Research & Development (Two Tours); Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois; Naval Submarine Support Center Bangor, Washington; Naval Service Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois. I had the honor of receiving many personal and unit awards including the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (6), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, Military Outstanding Service Medal, and numerous other awards. I retired in 2016 after 20 years of service.
Website for Kash Jackson: https://www.kash2018.com/
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