When I took the Oath of Enlistment for the United States Navy in 1998, I pledged to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The Navy’s core principles of honor, courage, and commitment are values I held closely when I enlisted, and values I continue to strive for everyday.

When my ship went to battle stations because of an inbound SCUD missile, I doubted we would return home. When I returned from Iraq I knew the “collateral damage” was nearly 1 million human lives. I let that guilt rest on my shoulders, and I live with post-traumatic stress disorder. I receive health care through the VA.

There is no reason a single mom with cancer should not be able to afford medical treatment. There is no reason a child born with a birth defect should have a cap on the care they can receive. There is no reason our country should cut taxes of the wealthiest and cut programs like Medicaid and Medicare. There is no reason American lives should be collateral damage to politics. I can’t sit back while our government is playing politics with American lives.

My ability to access health care saved my life, and I didn’t put my life on the line abroad to come home and find our elected officials votes put more American lives on the line by making it harder for people to access food, medical care, and shelter. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s vote on the Republicans’ budget resolution was a vote against the welfare of all Mainers.

Alicia Barnes

Winthrop

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