Courtenay is fighting for our veterans

The following editorial ran in the Tennessean on June 7th.

After the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, I proudly served as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard a guided missile destroyer during Operation Enduring Freedom.

It was the highest honor to serve beside brave women and men willing to risk their lives to protect the United States of America.

At 22 years old, I learned the true meaning of “leave no man behind” and “failure is not an option.”

As an officer, it was my responsibility to ensure my sailors knew that I had their backs and would lay it all on the line for them regardless of their race, gender, religion, socioeconomic or political backgrounds. I made sure they were properly trained and worked through many issues our service members face every day.

This was my job, and I was proud to serve my division, my shipmates and my country.

As a civilian, it’s hard to believe our elected leaders willfully refuse to take care of their own, specifically the 280,000 Tennesseans without health coverage.

There are nearly 30,000 veterans in Tennessee who do not have insurance, because our elected officials refuse to expand Medicaid.

Many of our officials who are on state-covered health plans, including those who represent Williamson County, appear to be more concerned about getting reelected than they are about caring for our brothers and sisters returning home from the battlefield.

Today, more than 4,000 Williamson County residents who are working can’t afford health coverage.

Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed the conservative Insure Tennessee plan, which has the support of the majority of Tennesseans (both Republicans and Democrats), hospitals, insurance companies, chambers of commerce and clergy.

In any reasonable situation, Insure Tennessee would have passed. But because our politics are so broken, it never even came up for a vote.

Middle Tennessee is home to some of the world’s leading health-care companies and providers.

A study from the University of Tennessee showed that the passage of Insure Tennessee would inject more than $1.1 billion in new health-care spending, creating more than 15,000 new jobs and $909 million in new income.

In many of our rural communities, hospitals are typically one of the largest employers and offer better-paying jobs.

Unfortunately, a number of our rural hospitals have closed across the state because of the high rates of uncompensated care. Just a few weeks ago, McNairy County lost its hospital, leaving residents with nearly an hour's drive to the nearest hospital.

The lack of leadership in our legislature is creating health-care voids across our state in communities where people need help the most.

As a veteran, I am outraged that our elected leaders are putting politics over caring for our soldiers.

As a mother, I’m appalled at the complete lack of empathy for those who are lost in the coverage gap.

As a taxpayer, I am furious that our leaders are willing to leave billions of our dollars on the table, while states like California and New York are benefiting on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers.

Today, nearly 30,000 Tennessee veterans are being left behind because of the failure to act by our elected officials. As a veteran, I cannot sit idly by as our servicewomen and servicemen go without the care they so bravely earned on battlefields around the world.

Supporting our troops is much more important than the next election and cowering to the demands of political donors.

Courtenay Rogers is a Navy veteran, a mother and a community advocate with deep roots in Williamson County. She is a candidate for state representative in the 63rd District.

Read the original article here: http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/06/07/elected-leaders-put-politics-over-caring-soldiers/85571298/