September 26, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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It Is A Privilege To Help Our Military And Veterans

Senator Bryan Simonaire
Senator Bryan Simonaire's picture
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August 22, 2017

My father served in the Air Force during the Korean War, my father-in-law served in World War II and many others in my extended family have joined the armed forces, so honoring the military is in my blood. While I did not enter the military, I have been privileged to work alongside many men and women who wore the uniform.

Besides being a state senator, I have worked in the computer field at a major defense company for the last 32 years. One of the blessings of my job has been to work on numerous military contracts, to help deploy our products overseas alongside our fine military and to make numerous friendships. I have worked in Central America and in numerous countries in the Middle East.

My working relationships have given me the highest respect for our military men and women. Most people do not see the untold hours and sacrifice these soldiers put into their job, but I was privileged to see it firsthand.

So when people ask me, “Why are you so focused on helping our military and veterans?” I tell them it is because I have seen the sacrifice they have made for our country and they deserve our honor, respect and so much more. It is the least I can do to help show my gratitude for their efforts and love for our country.

Since I took office in Annapolis, I have focused on helping our military. The first bill I passed was the Fallen Soldier’s Privacy Act. This bill protected the fallen soldiers and their family members from being commercially exploited through political rhetoric printed on T-shirts using the fallen soldier’s name.

Later, I successfully worked with my colleagues to institute a protest buffer zone from a soldier’s funeral as some were using the occasion to make a spectacle and hurl unbelievable insults at the family during their grief.

More recently, the Department of Natural Resources announced the implementation of two programs that I championed over the last two years.

The first is the donation program of fishing and hunting licenses for our wounded warriors and Gold Star family members – relatives of a military member who died in the line of duty. The program is now accepting donations so more wounded warriors and grieving families can go on guided fishing and hunting excursions with nonprofits focused on the healing process. Several groups in our state are doing a wonderful job in this area, but the need far exceeds the resources.

The second program will give a 50 percent discount on hunting and fishing licenses to Maryland Purple Heart recipients. This program was passed this year with bipartisan support. I wanted to honor these men and women of valor with free licenses, but there was only enough consensus to provide discounted licenses. Hopefully, we can come back and visit this issue in a few years after the program has been up and running for a while.

If you would like any information on these two new programs, contact my office at bryan.simonaire@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3658.

Of course, the veterans-related bill that I am most proud of this year is the veterans suicide prevention legislation that passed with all senators co-sponsoring. This bill will hopefully help reduce the number of suicides among veterans. I am organizing a fall fundraiser to help provide service dogs free of charge to these veterans.

Working on military issues is not a one-year wonder for me but a passion I have demonstrated throughout my time in the Maryland Senate.

So while I will continue to champion a wide array of issues affecting my constituents, legislation dealing with military and veterans will always hold a special place in my heart.


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