Greetings from the fourth floor of your Missouri Capitol and a belated Happy Thanksgiving. The holiday season is now upon us, and I hope during this time of the year you are able to spend time with your family and loved ones. These are special moments and should be cherished each and every time. If you are traveling on Missouri's roads, please be safe and buckle up/put the phone down.
It has been a busy two weeks within the district as well as outside with a trip to Bowling Green to visit the Northeast Missouri Correctional Center. As I have shared in previous columns, I am trying to visit all the veterans wings within the walls of the participating prisons and meet the administrators as well as some of the inmates. Each of these visits has been very informative, and while each may differ in many ways from one institution to another, they all have one thing in common and that is to help veterans who find themselves on the wrong side of the law to give them the tools they need to prepare them for life outside the walls.
My first visit was where the program began in Moberly and then on to Boonville and now Bowling Green; my hope is this program will find its way into every facility and that those veterans will take advantage of the programs offered to become productive citizens once released. Again, I want to commend the Department of Corrections for creating this special wing of the prison and recognizing incarcerated veterans need to be looked at through a different lens.
Speaking of veterans, I had the honor of attending the last Honor Flight of the year a little more than a week ago. These Honor Flights are a special time for veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. When the program first began, the goal was to get as many of the WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., because they were passing away very quickly, and then, the focus turned to the Korean War veterans and has since moved to the Vietnam vets. This last one had one World War II vet who had served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Gov. Mike Parson had the honor of pushing his wheel chair into a crowded room of guests to welcome him home. That very same welcome was extended to 110 veterans, and for many, it was the first welcome home celebration they have experienced. I have talked with many vets who have been on the Honor Flight, and they say it is a very moving experience.
While I have not been on one yet, I do plan on going on the next one if accepted. Many of us have seen newsreels of the welcome home our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines received when they returned home after WWII. Our Vietnam veterans did not receive that same welcome. The times were different then, and I am grateful that we look at our military heroes in a different light now and offer them the gratitude they deserve for protecting our freedoms and serving our country. I would encourage each of you when you see a man or woman wearing Vietnam veteran baseball hat, go up to them, say "welcome home," and thank them for their service. They will appreciate your gratitude for taking the time to recognize them.
In keeping with what seems to be a veteran theme today, I am honored the speaker appointed me the chairman of the standing Committee on Veterans. This past session, I served as the vice chair and learned a great deal from Chairman Chuck Basye. As a veteran, I know firsthand many of the issues our veterans face every day and this committee will work to address those concerns. This past session, we handled bills concerning service members' employment rights, bonds for veterans' homes, and an alert system for missing or endangered veterans. We are fortunate we have so many veterans serving on this committee, and I will be honored to serve as the chair.
Finally, I want to thank all of you who responded to the survey I recently sent out. The numbers continue to increase, and as of writing this, we are at more than 300 responses, which is up from the 18 in my first survey. The link is on the House webpage: https://www.house.mo.gov/MemberDetails.aspx?year=2019&code=R&district=060
There is still time to complete the survey, and I appreciate the input you are giving me. Moreover, while we may not always agree, I still want to hear from you and will always be available to discuss your thoughts and concerns.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your state representative and during this holiday season shop local and shop Missouri.
State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 60th House District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.