STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Military veterans who are now serving in the Arizona Legislature are forming a new caucus that will focus on issues affecting veterans across the state.
“As active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, we had the obligation and the freedom to not be bogged down with partisan politics. We did not take an oath for a political party or a particular leader. Our oath was to the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu (District 5). “We in the Veterans Caucus have come together as a non-partisan partnership to continue honoring that tradition. Our mission is simple. Set the example for the service and support of veterans’ causes. Semper Fi.”
Caucus members including Republican and Democrats have already started reaching out to veterans’ groups.
Melissa Lange, co-founder and president of the Southwest Veterans Chamber of Commerce, said that she is pleased to see the legislators focusing on veterans issues including employment. The mission of the chamber is to improve the business climate, economy and quality of life for veterans.
"We at the Southwest Veterans Chamber of Commerce feel an obligation to help veterans succeed in the business world. These men and women dedicated a good deal of their time to serving our country. We think that it is only fitting that we spend some time helping them when they return to civilian life,” Lange said. “Our organization was created by veterans and for veterans because we best understand the specific needs of the veteran community as they re-enter the workforce. It stands to reason that a legislative caucus, created by veterans, for veterans, is uniquely qualified to address veterans’ issues."
Terry Araman, director of the Madison Street Veterans Association, said that he is looking forward to working with the caucus to help Arizona become the most supportive state in the country for all veterans.
“Ending veteran homelessness, assisting veterans with opportunities for quality employment, education, and health care, can only be accomplished with the participation and support of the entire community - government, business, service and faith-based organizations,” Araman said. “Let’s make sure Arizona is the most supportive state in the country for all veterans. These are men and women who have dedicated a portion of their lives to ensure that we remain free and safe, at home and abroad. Our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as previous generations of veterans, deserve no less than our full and complete support to successfully reintegrate back into civilian life.”
The caucus will be open to any state legislators with past military experience. All legislators or interested members of the public are invited to attend caucus meetings.
“There are many of us at the Legislature who have military experience. We know firsthand the challenges many of our veterans are facing now. We are prepared to work together and across the aisle to find better ways of providing services for our state’s veterans,” said Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19). “This session we’ll be addressing issues including employment, education and mental health care for veterans.”