Congressman Hunter's September Newsletter
Giving Honor Where Honor is Overdue
I’m happy to report that last month, President Donald Trump posthumously awarded Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, USAF the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions at Takur Ghar, Afghanistan on March 4, 2002. TSgt. Chapman was serving with a Joint Special Operations team when one of his teammates was ejected during a helicopter crash after it came under heavy enemy fire and was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Despite being heavily surrounded by enemy gunfire TSgt. Chapman and the remaining Joint Special Operations team members voluntarily returned to the snow-capped mountain in an attempt to rescue their stranded teammate. TSgt. Chapman charged into enemy fire through harrowing conditions, seized an enemy bunker and neutralized its enemy occupants. He then moved from cover to engage a machine gun firing on his team from a second bunker. While engaging this position, he was severely wounded by enemy gunfire but continued to fight relentlessly in a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before paying the ultimate sacrifice. TSgt. Chapman actions are in the highest traditions of our military and clearly deserving of the Medal of Honor.
It is a tragedy that before Chapman’s widow could receive the award she had to endure 15 years of bureaucratic “red tape”. Sadly, long and unexplainable delays are not an exception, but rather the norm, when it comes to valor awards being presented to the men and women currently serving our nation. It is also important to note that during the entire war in Afghanistan, which happens to be the longest war in American history, only 16 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Even worse is that after eight years of the Iraq war, only four Medals of Honor have been awarded. In comparison to Medals of Honor in previous campaigns the three years of the Korean War had 146 awarded; the 6 years of WWII saw 472 awardees; and from the two-day Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, two were awarded.
I remain unapologetic for criticizing the Armed Forces’ handling and politicization of Post 9/11 awards system on cases such as TSgt. John Chapman, First Lieutenant Travis Manion, Major Brian Chontosh and Sgt. Rafael Peralta. These brave heroes all disregarded their own personal safety by making calculated and courageous decisions that put themselves in grave danger in order to save the lives of others.
In the District
As your Congressman, I work every day to represent you and I am honored you have given me the opportunity to be your voice in Congress. A big part of that responsibility is going to Washington and making sure our community’s priorities are known. As I traveled around the district in August, I had the opportunity to meet with several constituents, community groups, and businesses around San Diego and Riverside Counties.
In fact, I recently held a Trucking Industry Roundtable with local trucking companies and drivers to discuss my legislation, the DRIVE Safe Act, and other issues facing the local and state trucking industry. My common-sense bill will give young adults the opportunity to step into a career that would provide the economic stability which might be otherwise unattainable or unavailable. Specifically, the measure creates a rigorous apprenticeship-training program for those seeking to drive in interstate commerce while, at the same time, creating job opportunities and addressing the vast driver shortage. You can read more about the DRIVE-Safe Act in my recent op-ed.
In addition, Chaldean leaders met with me in my El Cajon office recently to discuss religious tolerance and protection for Christians in Iraq. Specifically, they called on me to support language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that asks the military to direct funds to educational programs in areas where religious extremism has a strong presence. The educational grants serve to support programs in local elementary schools that teach age appropriate religious tolerance concepts to children in an effort to counteract extremist views.
Aside from meeting with constituents, my El Cajon Office has caseworkers that can help you navigate the bureaucracy of the federal government. If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with any federal agency, please contact my district office at 619-448-5201 and ask to speak with a caseworker for assistance.
Over the past few months, devastating wildfires have affected our communities. CAL FIRE is a great resource regarding the status of local fires.
For those affected by the West Fire and the Building Fire, San Diego County has established a Recovery Assistance Hotline (858) 495-5200 and http://SDCountyRecovery.com, which has info on clean-up, rebuilding, and resources. A Local Assistance Center is open at the Alpine Library, 1752 Alpine Blvd.
In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering financial assistance to qualified CA businesses and residents affected by the West Fire. The Outreach Center has been set up at the Alpine Public Library, additional information can be found here.
Moreover, I worked with my colleagues in the California Delegation on a bipartisan letter to President Donald J. Trump in support of fire relief for our state. We stand ready to assist the communities afflicted by this disaster.
As always, I want to thank our firefighters and first responders for all their sacrifice and service protecting our communities.
Telephone Town Halls
Thank you to everyone who participated in my live, telephone town hall meetings over the past few months. These telephone town halls afforded me the opportunity to reach 200,000 constituents. Your insights were invaluable and provided me with another great opportunity to interact with and share my efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives.
If you would like to participate in future telephone town hall meetings, I encourage you to sign up here. Whether you’re concerned about health care, improving our economy, securing our border or fighting constitutional overreach, I want to give you the opportunity to discuss your priorities for our country and district.
Remembering John McCain
John McCain’s long life of service touched thousands of lives and his passing is an incredible loss for our country. I and many others valued him as a friend and colleague – a man who got things done, a man skilled at bringing people together, and a man who did not shy away from issues just because they seemed controversial.
A son and grandson of four-star admirals, Senator McCain followed in his family’s footsteps to the U.S. Naval Academy and went on to serve his country for more than two decades in the U.S. Navy. From 1983 until his death, he served as a Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and was a presidential candidate twice. He'll certainly be missed, but his legacy will live forever.
Last week people across the country had the opportunity to pay their last respects to this American politician and decorated war hero. He was honored at the Arizona state Capitol and North Phoenix Baptist Church, before traveling to Washington, D.C. where he lied in state in the U.S. Capitol. A national memorial service was held at Washington’s National Cathedral, before he was laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Serving my country in uniform was one of the greatest honors and most rewarding experiences of my life. This is why I encourage every interested high school student in our district to think about applying to one of our incredible service academies. The deadline to submit your applications this year is October 31, 2018. Learn more about the nomination process and how to apply here: https://hunter.house.gov
Congressional App Challenge
The 2018 Congressional App Challenge is officially open to all middle and high school students in our district. The Congressional App Challenge will run from June 4, 2018, through October 15, 2018, with competitors judged by an appointed panel of professionals within the academic, software and entrepreneurial fields. The winning student’s app in each participating congressional district will be featured on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website.
To sign up, simply visit the Congressional App Challenge website by clicking here. If you have any questions about this competition, or need more information on the requirements for submission, please contact Ashleigh Conaway in my El Cajon District Office at 619-448-5201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to all the participants!
Are you a college student interested in getting an internship in politics or public service? Interns play an important role in constituent service, research projects, and more. To apply for full or part-time internships at my El Cajon and DC offices, please visit my website: https://hunter.house.gov.
Hearing from You
As always, I hope to hear from you throughout the course of the year as Congress does its legislative work, in addition to providing effective oversight. Please contact my office with any questions, comments, or concerns.