Imagine standing in the growing darkness of a humid August night biting your lip so hard you taste the quicksilver of blood but you don’t want the tears to fall as you tell your son, “be safe” gathering for one last family hug beside the little oak tree as your son leaves for a secret base in Afghanistan. You can’t cry because you are supporting his dream of becoming a Conservation police officer and a voluntarily deployment is a critical step in achieving that goal.
A hot July three years later you are free to let the tears fall in pride and joy as you watch your son give the valedictorian speech to his fellow Conservation police officers and their families.
Now imagine our heartbreak as these 13 men, all but three of whom are veterans, are told less than a month later the state wants to terminate their employment despite their sacrifices and their ongoing willingness to lay their lives on the line to protect the people and resources of our state. These are the bitterest tears of all, shed at the betrayal of a state that said it supports its veterans.
I realize the governor and legislators’ job includes hard choices, but could you look one of these veterans in the eye and honestly tell them there was no other way? I only ask for one thing: Look out for these veterans like they are willing to do for you.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Tara R. Knop