Note from Rep. Les Gara

Note from Rep. Les Gara



Memorial Day Respects & A Few Legislative Tokens of Appreciation

Note from Rep. Les Gara

May 25th, 2018

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,


I just wanted to share my appreciation this Memorial Day Weekend.  As a recent Immigrant my father served in the Korean War, and for all of you who have family members who've served or who have served, even in danger yourselves, thank you.


It would be false to say state legislators can do a ton on federal military matters, but I've done what I can whenever I can, and was able to add a small token of appreciation with legislation that took me three years to get past legislative roadblocks.


A few years ago a Veteran called and asked that I fill in the gaps of recognition the state gives to military members who served with "valor" in combat or against "an enemy." In May I added this bill as an amendment (thank you Senator Dennis Egan for supporting me in doing this), to Senate Bill 204.


The Department of Motor Vehicles currently and rightly honors those who have received Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recognition.  But it leaves out the ability for a survivor, or family member who wants to recognize a Veteran, who has been recognized for valor in combat/against an enemy with a Silver Star, Distinguished Cross or Bronze Star for Valor, or the other valor in combat designations.  That is now corrected by the amendment we added.  The former Senator who blocked this bill passed his own "Blood Bank" license plate bill but for some reason blocked this one from passing his committee. In politics you try not to give up. This will now be law, as the Governor easily will, I expect, support the legislation when it hits his desk. 


In the past we have shared tokens of appreciation by supporting grant funds for the design and scoping of a needed veteran's housing project, for homeless Veterans, that's being considered near Eagle River - and I thank Veteran Ric Davidge for his leadership on that project. 


And I added an amendment (from a bill I'd filed) a few years ago when we learned many Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress were, because of that condition, losing control at times and committing non-violent crimes.  If Post Traumatic Stress is "the cause" of the non-violent conduct, sentences can now be reduced or eliminated to reflect the military service-related injury the person is battling.  And I've opposed and fought to reverse cuts to the Pioneer Homes, which includes Alaska's Veterans' Home.


These and other efforts have been small tokens of appreciation, and recognition.


But in the end none of these compares to the sacrifice of those of you who have served, and of those families whose relatives have served.


With that, I'll just say thank you.




My Best,




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