Our Democracy Takes Work: Support Those Who Sacrificed for Us

Our democracy means citizens have a voice in their government, like the right to vote. Our democracy provides freedoms, such as the Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Association. But creating and sustaining our democracy takes work and sometimes even great sacrifice. Voting and preserving access to the ballot box help support our democracy. Some of our neighbors and community members go further to support our democracy by joining one of the branches of our armed services which sometimes results in sacrifices to their health.

Last week, Congress had a significant opportunity to support our democracy, by supporting our veterans who sacrifices their time, talent, health, and even their lives to protect our democracy by passing the PACT Act. But Congress refused. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, which is also known as the PACT Act, provides a “grace period for veterans who served near burn pits to get medical care, and legislation that tells the VA how to approach certain illnesses and cancers.” When our service members do come home, they are often injured—physically and emotionally -- and need continued care and support. That is what the PACT Act addresses. The PACT Act sent the message to our veterans that, “You did the active and dangerous work of defending democracy, now we will do the work of supporting you.” Except when it came up for a vote last week in the U.S. Senate, veterans got a very different signal, as some senators reversed their supportive votes, and the PACT Act failed to get the support it needed to pass, so veterans failed to get the support they needed and deserved.

Veterans, and veteran groups, continue to press for passage of the PACT Act. They are urging the U.S. Senate to do their work and pass the PACT Act before leaving for their August recess. The American Legion, America’s largest veteran service organization, called the vote “ absolutely unacceptable” and a group of veterans have taken to a constant vigil on the steps of the Capitol, vowing to stay in the Washington, D.C. heat and humidity until the PACT Act is passed.

Protecting and preserving our democracy will always take work from all of us. This week, that work should include passing the PACT Act. Send a message to Congress now telling them to do their work.

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