Scripture tells us in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Since our nation’s founding, this has also been the creed of the men and women who put on the uniform and defend the United States. It is our duty to hold in our hearts those South Dakotans who have given their lives for their country to preserve what Ronald Reagan called our “last best hope on Earth.” Others have returned home and find themselves readapting to civilian life, sometimes in the face of difficult health and employment challenges.
Our veterans have fought for us, and together we can fight for them.
AS YOUR GOVERNOR, I WILL:
- Respect the ideas and ideals defended by the courageous actions of our military. This means honoring our national anthem and our flag—the same flag that has been victoriously raised over foreign battlefields and draped over the caskets of our beloved dead.
- Work with our more than 20 veteran service organizations here in South Dakota to ensure they have a voice in state government. These groups tirelessly advocate for the needs of our veterans. Just as important, they work with our young people to pass on the values of patriotism, citizenship, and Americanism. I will support programs like Boys and Girls State, the American Legion Oratorical Contest, the Civil Air Patrol, and classroom curriculum that emphasize the importance of these American virtues.
- Insist that the federal government live up to its obligations to America’s heroes. We have asked so much of our military men and women. When Washington fails to deliver on its promises, I will be a steady voice for veterans.
- Fight to save the Black Hills VA Health Care System in Hot Springs. The federal government has been reducing services at the VA for over 20 years and I am committed to helping lead the fight to save the VA. I will also visit VA Healthcare Centers, Vet Centers, Community Based Outpatient Clinics, and meet with veterans on a regular basis to verify that South Dakota has the facilities to provide the health care our veterans have earned. Veterans deserve a governor who will see health care needs through their eyes—not a governor who hears about health care challenges from a staffer. As we learn more about treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the full range of veteran health issues, I am committed to working with state and federal leaders to ensure South Dakota is caring for the physical and mental health of our heroes.
- Promote the State Veterans Home Endowment Fund to enhance the quality of life for the residents at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veteran’s Home. I will personally help raise money for this important cause.
- Direct the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) to assess the availability of affordable housing and retirement facilities for our veterans.
- Support the critical mission of our South Dakota National Guard as commander-in-chief. I will work with state and national leaders to ensure the soldiers under our command in South Dakota have the tools and equipment they need to complete their mission safely.
- Support the new Veteran’s Cemetery near Sioux Falls and work to secure long-term funding. I also support the expansion of the Black Hills National Cemetery.
- Advocate for Ellsworth Air Force Base and other facilities critical to our national security.
- Commit to hiring veterans at all levels of state government. Those veterans who wish to continue their service to South Dakota by working in state government will be welcomed by the Jackley administration.
In his 1863 Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln called the American people to fulfill the call of those who live in freedom thanks to the sacrifices of those who have gone before us:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Together we will honor the memory of those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” by fulfilling our promise to the veterans who are still with us and resolving that their ever-present sacrifice will never be forgotten in South Dakota.
Guided by this Commitment to South Dakota Veterans, the Jackley administration will always stand beside those men and women whose actions guarantee our freedom, protect the peace, and preserve our liberty for a new generation of Americans.