In honor of Veterans Day, South Carolina volunteer and veteran Brandon U. shares why he supports President Obama in 2012.
I grew up in the small town of Aiken, S.C. We were raised in a three-bedroom house under challenging conditions. Our house had leaking ceilings and had to be heated by an old, black, cast-iron stove. We didn’t have hot water; I remember boiling water on the stove just to take a warm bath. My grandmother and my mother had to work two and sometimes three jobs to provide for me and my sister, Sabrina.
But, growing up, they had a vision for our future that far exceeded our situation. Their lessons of hard work and dedication shaped my life and led me to join the South Carolina Army National Guard at the age of 17, and at the age of 19, volunteer to serve our country in Iraq with the 122nd Combat Engineering Company attached to the 101st Airborne. Our job was to find Improvised Explosive Devices, also known as IEDs, and make it home in one piece. We were lucky; we brought everyone home physically in tact. But the mental stress of combat took hold on many of my fellow soldiers.
I, like many other veterans, experienced some life-changing moments in Iraq. We went to war in a country that understood the power and value of its voice, which it expressed for the first time in 2006. Experiencing the first-ever election in Iraq changed my life forever. Seeing men and women risking their lives to cast their vote was awe-inspiring. I returned home looking for something that was just as amazing and empowering as what I experienced during my deployment, and I found it in then Senator Barack Obama.
Barack Obama inspires me through his genuine care and concern for all people. He understands that in order for our country to continue to be the greatest country on Earth, all people have to understand the power of their voice. He empowers the common man and woman to demand equal access to information and education; he inspires hope in a population of discouraged Americans, and motivates millions of young people to get up from behind their Xbox and make a difference in the world. I was one of those young people, and today I continue to work hard to give a voice to my community and the people in it that have been overlooked for so long.
In my work as a community organizer and volunteer with the campaign, I feel the same sense of accomplishment that I felt after leaving Iraq with all of my fellow soldiers every time another person is empowered to vote. Today, as veterans, we must continue to fight until every person is educated, informed and empowered for the betterment of their community. President Obama has fought courageously for veterans and soldiers to have the rights and benefits that we have all sacrificed and some have even died for. In 2012, it will be our duty to re-elect Barack Obama for the generations of soldiers to come. He is exactly what we need to progress in these challenging times. May we bend, but never break!