Veteran: A person who has served in a military force, especially one who has fought in a war.

Many of us Vietnam Veterans find the political campaign season an interesting time because for most of our days we are likened to that "funny uncle" that many families do not want to discuss in polite company. But in the political season we magically appear in two places at once; first as a highly sought after voting block and on too many other occasions as a candidate for high public office.

Most of us who are forced to rely on the Veteran's Administration for our very survival have long since learned to ignore all the promises made by good intentioned politicians who naively promise to make things better for us because hope for any real change died a long time ago for far too many of us.

But even more ironic is that we Veterans truly do want to believe that all Veterans who run for public office possess the same highly respected values that we all want to believe motivated a person to serve in the military services of our once great nation. Far too often that need to believe is sadly misplaced.

Most Americans know a Veteran and many, many Americans have Veterans among their family members. And when we think of Veterans, in general, we think of those we know best. But when a person runs for office and their major claim of a qualification is the fact that they are a Veteran, someone who once wore the uniform of this nation what do we really know about the person? This got me thinking about Veterans we know and those we know of.

My father served in Korea and again in Vietnam. My father never fired a weapon in those years in a combat zone. I served two years in Vietnam and I cannot say the same of my experiences. We are both Veterans.

A longtime friend and former boss of mine returned from Vietnam with a Congressional Medal of Honor. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl did not return from Afghanistan in a similar state of grace. Both are Veterans.

But as my son pointed out in an exceptionally insightful moment when told me: Dad, we are veterans too. Truer words were never spoken. The families of those who chose to serve our country also served. In any war, there are two major categories of soldiers: Combat and Combat Support. In Vietnam, there were four Combat Support personnel for every Combat soldier. All are Veterans. All served their country in the roles best suited.

None served more honorably than the families that supported those who wore the uniforms of our country. Whether or not a person ever wore a uniform is not a defining criteria of a Veteran. A more acceptable definition might be more towards a person of strong character and conviction who values the welfare and the future of our country as paramount to one's one self-interest.

Connie Foust, candidate for Nevada State Assembly in Assembly District 19, is truly a shining example of such a person. This diminutive admitted country girl has held a lifelong conviction that the term "national defense" far exceeds the singular qualification of wearing the uniform of our military.

Blessed with that quiet personal strength and conviction that we like to attribute to those "John Wayne Types" in which that old cliché of "a person's word is their bond" is an accepted fact of life, Connie Foust has held firm to her convictions even in the stark face of personal tragedy.

Being raised in the West, Connie Foust has been qualified with firearms since she was old enough to carry a rifle. As a resident of a free nation, Connie Foust has always understood on a very deep personal level the importance of our Second Amendment to the Constitution with an emphasis on "...shall not be infringed." And when fate took her husband in an unfortunate firearms accident, Connie Foust's conviction and deeply felt support of the Second Amendment never faltered.

And when our incompetent federal government willingly exposed the soft underbelly of our southern border, Connie Foust answered the call to defend her country. She took up arms and joined those brave patriots defending our southern border.

To Connie Foust, standing resolutely in harm's way in defense of our country was as natural as applying makeup would be to the real wives of Beverly Hills. To Connie Foust, the smells of campfire chili, stale coffee and the sweet smell of cordite comprise a perfume of unequaled beauty.

By whatever criteria one wishes to apply, Connie Foust is truly and uniquely qualified to carry the title of "Veteran." In the opinion of this Veteran, Connie Foust is the embodiment of all those traits of courage, commitment, and patriotism that we love to attribute to our veterans. And in the opinion of this Veteran, she is much more deserving of our trust as a representative in our state government than are others whose first, last, and arguably least valid qualification is that they once wore the uniform of this country.

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