by Eli Rivera – Oct 10, 2019 (UnionLeader.com)
Every morning for more than 30 years, I’ve been proud to serve as a law enforcement officer with the Winchester and Keene police departments, and now as sheriff of Cheshire County.
However, in recent years, in addition to my badge, I’ve been carrying a growing sense of concern for my community as we wage a battle against substance-misuse disorders and face a mental health care crisis.
My deputies and I, along with law enforcement officers nationwide, have been on the front lines trying to help our neighbors. We’ve undergone training to help those with mental-health challenges and substance-misuse disorders, and continue to do our best to confront this crisis.
But overdose deaths continue to rise, and we see the same people cycle in and out of the system. Sometimes it feels like we’re just putting a small bandage over a bleeding artery. It’s clear there’s something seriously wrong on a much deeper level in our community and our country: we have lost a sense of purpose in a rapidly changing world.
This is a challenge far beyond law enforcement officers, as it cuts to the core of our nation and what it means to be American. These issues must be addressed by the highest office in the land.
Our country may be in a crisis, but Pete Buttigieg gives me hope. He is bringing people together from every walk of life to solve our most significant challenges with bold new ideas. When politicians in Washington seem more interested in fighting each other, Pete is uniting us.
You can see that in his mental health care plan. Yes, he has put forth the most comprehensive plan to address the heart of the mental health care and addiction crisis, connecting the dots between overdose and mental health, and empowering communities to address their unique challenges. But more than the extensiveness of his plan, Pete understands that in order to heal, we must ensure everyone feels like they belong in their community and our country.
You can see this same approach with his health-care plan, Medicare For All Who Want It. Pete understands the urgent need to ensure every American has health care, but he’s doing it in a way that gives us a choice and doesn’t force millions to give up their private insurance if they don’t want to.
You can also see it in how he treats everyone with respect, compassion, and dignity, regardless of who they are or where they are in life’s journey. As the only Hispanic sheriff in New Hampshire, I appreciate that Pete is calling for common-sense immigration reform and offering a path to citizenship to those fleeing violence, while still protecting our nation.
Underlying all of his plans is that set of core values he clearly laid out in his first major policy, his national service plan. Like me, Pete served in our nation’s military, so he understands the power of service to bring people together around a shared purpose. By committing to create one million paid civilian service positions by 2026, he’s offering young people a chance to serve their country and give them a sense of purpose at a time when it’s missing for too many.
For a lot of us, that sense of purpose defines who we are, and our belief in service above self is our driving force. And by coming together around a mission bigger than ourselves, we can start to heal our communities from within and bridge a divided nation.
For all these reasons and more, I’m proud to support Pete Buttigieg for President of the United States. With Pete, we have a chance to unite our country around our shared values and work together to overcome our most significant challenges. I want to look back and remember this election as the time we all came together to heal our country — before it was too late.