Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., addresses the crowd before former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C.  (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File) U.S. Rep Ted Budd
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., addresses the crowd before former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

A U.S. Army veteran from Fayetteville on Republican opposition to the PACT Act, which expands health care for veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits.

This week the Honoring Our PACT Act was signed into law, which will protect veterans and active service members that have suffered harm from toxic chemicals and contaminated water as part of their service to our country. For decades, many service members and their families were exposed to these dangerous toxins, leading to cancers, respiratory diseases, and other ailments.

I’m one of them.

As a U.S. Army veteran, I can tell you this was a long time coming. I served for 23 years in the military and during my service in Operation Desert Storm I was first exposed to burn pits – it severely exacerbated my asthma. I hadn’t had an asthma attack in years, but during my burn pit rotations, I had severe attacks and my symptoms worsened into sinusitis. It almost caused me to be redeployed back to the United States. In recent years, it has caused me cardiovascular issues that eventually required open heart surgery. 

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Veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and we are proud to do so, knowing we’re protecting our great nation. But why do Washington politicians make it seem like it’s too much to ask that we receive health care and support when we return home? 

We see our elected officials tout their support for veterans when it’s politically useful. But too many of them have turned their back on us when they decide it isn’t. 

That’s why Congressman Budd isn’t for you. Lately he’s been touting his support of the PACT Act but the truth is that he initially voted against the bipartisan legislation. He flip flopped on the legislation after he received an outpour of bad press across the state and numerous veterans spoke out, including myself, to express their disappointment in him for failing to stand up for what North Carolina’s veterans deserve. 

The Honoring Our PACT Act gives North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune families the right to seek monetary relief due to harm from water contamination, and expands access to healthcare and benefits to roughly 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits. It’s common sense, bipartisan legislation that will support service members and veterans like me — so why did it take Congressman Budd so long to come around? 

North Carolina has one of the largest veteran and military family populations in the country. If there’s one thing this state needs in a U.S. Senator, it’s an unwavering commitment to our service members, veterans and their families. We need to be able to count on our Senator to stand up for us all the time, not just when it’s politically convenient. We need someone in the U.S. Senate who will fight for our best interests from the get go. 

That’s not Ted Budd. Budd has a track record in Washington of abandoning North Carolina’s military community.

Ted Budd repeatedly voted against raising service members’ pay, tried to block $215.8 million in funding for military construction funding to upgrade and support North Carolina military installations. 

He continues to oppose legislation that would benefit veterans’ health such as voting against $34 billion for defense health programs, and a bill that would have funded continued disability compensation for 5.3 million veterans

He consistently turns away other opportunities for veterans’ such as voting against a bill that would provide education benefits to nearly 1 million veterans, and support vocational rehabilitation, and employment training. 

How can we trust someone who brags about supporting veterans and service members, but consistently votes against our safety, health, and benefits, to represent us well? 

This week, our nation took a big step forward in honoring our solemn duty to veterans by making the Honoring Our PACT Act law and delivering health care to those who most need it. But there’s more work to do and we owe it to our veterans and service members to continue fighting for them in the Senate. Ted Budd is denying veterans and service members access to healthcare and other vital benefits, and only votes in the way that supports his political agenda at the time. He does not truly support us, and veterans will remember that in November.