Hutson: The case for veterans: Yes on ColoradoCare (column)
September 14, 2016
I joined the U.S. Marine Corps for reasons that might sound familiar to some of my fellow post-9/11 veterans — to act and serve in a meaningful way in response to a blatant display of evil and, in doing so, to lift the veil that separates daily American living from the "real world."
As many who have served know, the world that we have seen and experienced can be very different from that of the average American. Truth be told, it can be a brutal and unforgiving place — the only relief being those standing by your side along the way. It is this often-unconditional love and support that keeps you going, that quiet acknowledgment of the sacrifice that you, and everyone serving alongside of you, has agreed to make should the time come. In a war zone, it is this bond that sustains us, drives us and ultimately allows some of us to make it home.
When I consider John F. Kennedy's famous words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," I have to imagine that this was a translation of his experience in wartime service to the nation. In these words, I find the moral imperative that underlies my support for Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare, which proposes to provide quality, affordable health care for all Coloradans.
After returning home from deployment to Iraq, I began to work in the human services field around the world, and ultimately right here in Colorado. The sum of these experiences, layered upon my experience in the Marine Corps, made crystal clear to me that my real world is also the world of many living in crisis here in the United States. The reality of an individual living in poverty, or even living on the cusp of financial ruin in our deteriorating middle class, is one of survival — survival without the unconditional support that those of us having served once found in each other.
Veterans, families, children, elders — I've seen them all come through the door, many of them homeless as the result of an unexpected medical bill resulting from a condition that had gone untreated for too long due to the expense of health care in our communities. These are folks who, like my fellow veterans, mean so very much to those who know them well, and yet seemingly so very little to those who do not. In the face of this overwhelming mountain of human evidence, I cannot help but to think that we, as a society, have become weakened by our stubborn refusal to abandon the web of broken systems that promote crisis over stability, and failure over success, for so many of our fellow citizens. If ever there was a more stunning affirmation that together we shall stand, and divided we shall fall, it is the health care system in America today.
ColoradoCare leverages the cumulative lessons learned by developed nations across the world to provide health care that would be cheaper, more effective and more accessible for the majority of Coloradans. It does away with costly deductibles and most copays, and promotes the adoption of preventative, as opposed to reactive care. It allows Coloradans to choose their doctors, and doctors to focus on care delivery instead of administrative work dealing with for-profit insurers. Most importantly, it allows us to uplift our fellow citizens, and create a stronger, healthier society.
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As more of us come to see the world as it is, this is our chance to make it what we want it to be.
Brenton Hutson is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, having served in Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraq, during the height of inter-sectarian violence. He, a fellow Marine and a community health worker, formed Empowering Communities to Transcend Adversity (ECTA), an international group that supports local leaders to strengthen their communities. He leads a statewide team working to end veteran homelessness and provide related supportive services throughout Colorado.
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