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My Turn: Vote 'no' for Alaska's long-term future

Posted: August 13, 2014 - 11:05pm

A long-term view of economic investment in Alaska will compel many military retirees to say “no” to Ballot Measure 1.

The U.S. military is experiencing the most substantial draw-down since the Cold War era. It is time for many to retire. Retiring military members chose Alaska as the place to ultimately call home at a higher rate than any state in the nation for several reasons: We relish the privilege to live and work in a state that offers superb quality of life, respectful diversity of thought and culture; and a unique like-mindedness amongst Alaskans to do what is right for our community.

The Alaskan way appeals to the sense of shared responsibility, discipline and commitment to a cause greater than one’s self that has been nurtured in our military careers.

Many military retirees have witnessed citizenry in foreign nations who live day-to-day with no expectation of influencing their immediate or long-term future. We’ve also seen how nations who draw their power from the consent of the governed can prosper when they stay the course for the long haul. Veterans hold sacred the right to actively engage and influence. For the first time in many of our careers, we are engaging as an active participant at the state and local level.

For much of our adult lives, we lived by the mantra “home is where the military sends you.”

We did our best to blend in and contribute politically to our borrowed communities, but we knew we would eventually leave and would often remain respectful outsiders. We deferred to those who were in it for the long haul to make decisions in their communities.

For many of us, retirement in Alaska offers the first chance to establish real roots. We find our own fishing holes, our children will know exactly what schools they will attend, and we will participate actively in state and local political processes. Military retirees are, for the first time, making political, employment and economic decisions with a long-term focus. We seek a vibrant and growth-oriented economic landscape with ample employment opportunity for ourselves and our posterity.

Our current direction for the oil and gas industry is the correct one for the long haul. It is the right mix of reasonable tax revenue and inducement for investment and long term growth. We’ve already seen a directional change from the losing ways we experienced under ACES. The oil is flowing and will continue to increase in volume. Worldwide deployments have shown military veterans that meaningful change does not occur overnight. The instant economic gratification received from unreasonable corporate taxation is short-sighted. Economic infusion from oil and gas will stimulate opportunities for environmentally responsible advancement in other Alaskan industries as well.

Thousands of military retirees have made Alaska our home. We’ve been welcomed by our state and given the sacred gift to cast a vote about its future. Voting “no” on Ballot Measure 1 is an investment in our long-term future — and we are in it for the long haul.

• Oscar Hall IV is a retired U.S. Army colonel.

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