Five weeks ago, I launched my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, focused on delivering a message of energy and optimism directly to the people of our great state. Last Friday, we campaigned all day in Juneau — where I was met with beautiful sunny weather, and warm hospitality throughout the community.
As Alaskans we are all truly blessed: breathtaking beauty, world-class resources and, above all, talented and diverse citizens. We have huge opportunities before us, especially the energy renaissance that is beginning to take place across Alaska and parts of the United States.
But Washington is broken — not only does it ignore these opportunities, it undermines them by: shutting down responsible resource development in Alaska; curtailing our individual rights and smothering our economy with dictates like Obamacare; and mortgaging our children’s future with trillion-dollar deficits. Many are viewing America as a country in decline. Career politicians who serve their own interests above their state’s and country’s have largely contributed to the mess in Washington.
We can, we must, and we will change this for our Alaskan families, our state economy, and for our national security in a dangerous world — and I believe that with the right leadership, combined with a vision of opportunity and optimism, we can put Alaska and this country back on track.
Throughout my campaign, we will be focusing on three critical areas:
• Accelerating the economic and energy renaissance that is spreading throughout Alaska and America — not just in oil and gas, but also the mining and fishing industries, to create more opportunities, affordable energy, jobs, and enhance our national security.
• Continuing our effective fight against federal overreach into the lives of Alaskans, Americans, and our economy. While many talk about and give speeches on this idea, I am proud to have been in the arena fighting daily against the Obama administration over the past four years as Alaska’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Natural Resources.
• Protecting Alaskans: our families, individual rights, fiscal future, and — very importantly — our veterans.
As a 20 year Marine Corps infantry officer, I am especially passionate about our nation’s veterans — and days like today make me so very proud to be Alaskan. Today in Washington, D.C., five Tlingit “Code Talkers” will be honored and recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.
They are: Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs, Jr. of Sitka; Robert Jeff David and George Lewis of Haines; and Richard Bean, Sr. from Hoonah. I would like to express my deep appreciation to their families for their overwhelming contribution to our country.
Like these five brave Tlingit men, Alaskans have participated with great patriotism and valor in numerous American conflicts. During World War II, Alaska Natives — some as young as 12 — heroically volunteered and sacrificed in the Alaska Territorial Guard to defend our country and state against the Japanese. Alaskans went on to serve in high numbers in Korea, Vietnam and more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.
On a statewide level, Alaska’s veterans are over 77,000 strong. Yet, our veterans aren’t getting the respect they deserve. According to the Stars and Stripes newspaper, the backlog of veterans’ benefits cases nationally have skyrocketed by almost 300 percent from approximately 150,000 in 2009 to over 600,000 cases in 2013. This is an outrage.
That is why on Veterans Day, I released my first of many campaign policy initiatives on veterans’ matters, entitled the “Promises Delivered Project,” focusing on:
• Reducing the appalling backlog of veterans’ cases;
• Re-examining the definition of combat service-related deaths and injuries;
• Ensuring the delivery of services for veterans throughout rural and remote parts of Alaska;
• Creating more jobs for our veterans; and,
• Providing veterans the same relief from Obamacare’s mandates that members of Congress and their staffs are eligible for.
To read more about my “Promises Delivered Project” visit www.Sullivan2014.com.
I’m honored to join all of you in thought and spirit as we remember the sacrifice that these five remarkable Tlingit men — and so many other Alaska vets — have made for our country. I will continue to work to honor you and to ensure all our Alaska veterans get the benefits they deserve. Over the next several months, I will be traveling throughout the state to hear my fellow Alaskans’ hopes and concerns, to listen and understand more deeply the issues that they care about, and to share my vision of opportunity for Alaska.
• Dan Sullivan is a candidate for U.S. Senate.