All are welcome to attend a free veterans’ town hall-style meeting to discuss current issues, including healthcare and other vet topics. The forum will be held Tuesday, July 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at the Selbyville fire hall, 30 N. Main Street, Selbyville.
The free event is being hosted and moderated by Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett (R-5th), who is also running for U.S. Senate.
The panel includes Larence Kirby (executive director of Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs and a U.S. Air Force vet) and Shawn Greener (a Navy vet, former New Castle County police officer, consultant on counter-terrorism and personal protection, a pastor and talk show host).
While the event is open to the public, due to space limits, preregistration is encouraged, at arlettveterans.eventbrite.com.
“My whole goal here is to bring experts in for the conversation that we need to have as a community,” said Arlett, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserve and whose father, brother and son have also stepped up to serve. “We are a very big military family, so it’s something that needs to be focused on.
“I think we have too much talk and not enough action,” Arlett added, so he’ll enter the conversation by inviting the public to discuss issues and ask questions.
Other veterans’ support organizations are also being invited to set up tables at the July 10 event. To register, groups should contact Phil Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 402-5735.
Organizers also hope to invite speakers regarding the VA Mission Act of 2018 (S.2372), which was recently signed into law, and the Delaware Veterans Treatment Court, which processes veterans charged with new criminal offenses and those charged with violations of probation.
Event cosponsors include Arlett, the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs and the Faith & Freedom Coalition Delaware.
“The veterans’ event certainly is not political. Otherwise, the governor’s appointee would not be coming,” Arlett emphasized.
However, his campaign logo is on the flyer, and the “Putting the First State First” town hall series echoes his campaign slogan. Also, this six-part series will occur in locations all over the state, not just his Sussex County representative district.
“These are just very important conversations that we as a state and a community want to have,” said Arlett. “We just want to bring these subject matters to the public and hear from them. I don’t have all the answers.”
His first forum, on healthcare, was held in New Castle County in June. Future forums topics are to include education, criminal justice reform, economic revitalization and religious liberty, and may also include farming, public safety and immigration.
Arlett talks vets
On a grander scale, Arlett is proposing two major reforms.
The first is to bring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) back under the U.S. Department of Defense.
The VA is currently a standalone cabinet-level agency. By folding it back into the DOD, Arlett said the VA would be “more of a focus than an afterthought,” with simpler recordkeeping.
Arlett has also proposed a mentoring program to help vets assimilate back into civilian life.
He mentioned veterans’ struggles with healthcare and suicide.
“Military personnel are very prideful. They typically, very calmly, don’t want any help, because they’re very prideful, but they’re also used to a chain of command, to following a system… So I would like to see a required mentoring program, and it does not need to be more government — there are plenty of nonprofits and civilian agencies,” Arlett said.
“Why not require [vets] to continue to be part of a system, part of chain of command and part of a mentoring program? And the program would aid in employment, in medical, in transition back into civilian world. … Shift them from an active chain of command to a civilian chain of command.”
The 2018 election
While Arlett has announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, he has not officially filed for the 2018 election, either for re-election to the Sussex County Council or for a U.S. Senate run.
Either seat would be contested. So far, John L. Rieley, also a Republican, has filed for County Council District 5. Republican Gene Truono Jr. has officially filed for Senate, as has California resident Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente (who filed in at least five other states, to show that the U.S. Constitution’s candidacy laws are vague). Senate candidates also include Democrats Tom Carper (the incumbent) and Kerri Harris, as well as Libertarian Nadine Frost and the Green Party’s Demitri Theodoropoulos.
This year, July 10 is deadline to register to run in these races, and July 13 is the deadline to withdraw from the election or file for a different office without forfeiting the filing fee.
By Laura Walter