Gauging the Native Veteran Vote

Vincent Schilling
11/2/12

In the 2012 election season, a considerable amount of emphasis has been placed on the status of the U.S. military. In the last debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Romney, the topic of military funding proved so popular a topic to voters, President Obama’s response of “horses and bayonets” to Romney trended on Twitter.

For well over 200 years, American Indian and Alaska Native veterans have served in the United States military at the highest rate per capita of any ethnicity.

In 2010, there were 156,000 Native veterans and 71 percent of veterans cast a vote in the 2010 congressional elections, an election in which U.S. Senate write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski credited the Native vote for her victory, the Native Veteran vote is a vote worth considering.

In this light, ICTMN took a random sampling of veterans from across the country and asked them how they were going to vote this upcoming election.

Mitchell Bush, an Onondaga U.S. Army veteran from Virginia

I am admittedly making my choice on a peculiar reason. Neither candidate is a veteran. One of them came from a family of five boys and he was the only one that did not serve in the military.  One was drafted, three others enlisted. That affects my vote.

I am voting for Obama because Romney has five strapping sons and none of them have been in the military. The family says they did missionary work for years, but that is like going to a junior college. So I don't feel as though they have contributed along that line.

I rely on the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - if they say they don't need something, they don't need it. Regarding their discussion on cutting back on the number of ships, Obama says times have changed and we do not need to worry about replacing these weapons of war. They don't need all of the ships, due to nuclear powered ships and submarines. To me that makes sense. The game of war is changing just like with these drone planes.

Bryan Brewer, an Oglala Sioux U.S. Navy veteran from South Dakota

I think the majority of Native veterans are going to vote Democratic. I am looking at such issues as the Keystone pipeline and mining and I know that Romney is really pushing for the pipeline so that is probably the biggest reason why I might go Democratic.

I don't think Romney would be good for Indian country due to all of our issues. I'm a little afraid although I don't know what Obama is going to do.

I know realistically that the federal government is going to ram this pipeline down our throats but we're going to do everything we can as a people to stop it.

Wes Weathers, a Cherokee Apache U.S. Navy veteran from Oregon

I know Oregon is a Democratic area and I used to vote Democratic, I am voting for Romney. The last four years have been very devastating for me financially. I am retired, I am 73 years old. Because I am retired, my income is not going as far as it used to. Gasoline prices have doubled in Oregon in four years and everything else is going up in price. I just cannot afford another four years of Obama.

I read all 1,000-plus pages of Obama care, and I tried to understand it and it's not easy to understand. From what I get out of it, I don't want it. When you have 70 percent of the people who do not want something why is the government forcing this down our throats?

That is my primary reason. Even though I am a registered Republican I will vote for whoever I think is the best candidate whether they are man or woman, to do the job. In regards to Libya, there is too much information coming out that says the White House knew about the situation – I think if Obama would've come up with the truth it would've looked good for him.

Julia Kelly, a Crow U.S. Army veteran from Montana

President Obama has a record of addressing Veteran issues. During his tenure the Veteran Administration has: expanded veteran centers in rural areas; increased the VA budget to recruit and retain mental health professionals; launched support services to prevent homelessness among veterans and more accomplished issues.

President Obama has a record of addressing Native American issues. He started with hosting Tribal Nation conferences which Tribal Leaders spoke of many issues concerning Tribal Governments. He signed a memorandum directing Federal Agencies to make a plan to fully implement Executive Order 13175 "Consultation and Coordination with Tribal Governments." He is the first President to put a Native in the White House as an Adviser. He also made sure Natives were in key positions in Administration offices to assist in Native American issues.

As a retired Native veteran living in Montana I do not see Romney’s concern in Native issues or veteran issues. I have done my research on Romney as a citizen and cannot find any strong papers or record that convinces me he will keep existing programs that are working. I have not seen any publicity of visits to veteran organizations or tribal governments.

I have been voting Republican most of the time. This is the first time in 20 years that I am voting Democrat. I consider myself an Individual. I will vote for the person who I feel will get the job done. I will not vote a straight ticket Democrat or Republican. So my whole ticket from county, city, state and presidential I voted both Democrat and Republican.

Clark Brown, a Delaware U.S. Army veteran from Virginia

I'm not overly impressed by either candidate’s platform, but based on the last four years any change other than a continued downward spiral of our economy, continued lack of respect as a Nation by the rest of the world or continued uncontrolled spending is welcomed by me.

I cannot support Obama as he has displayed a complete lack of knowledge on daily military operations (ie. The use of bayonets in today's armed forces as a small example) and/or leadership of those same forces. During a time of war his priority was to pass a healthcare bill which an overwhelming majority of Americans didn't want instead of focusing on the needs of military commanders and security such as that needed by U.S. Consulates to end the conflicts and provide safety abroad.

Obama has poured money in the form of "bailouts" without the companies receiving such providing a solid business plan, hence no real stimulation to our economy. Romney has a proven business background and excellent models for companies to emulate, thus I believe he can get American businesses back on track and stimulate our economy. As long as I can work and provide food and shelter for my family...I don't care if the rich get richer.

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