I am a proud Montanan and a veteran, and I support voter initiative I-185. About one in 10 Montanans is a veteran, one of the highest per-capita representations among all the states in America. Including the less fortunate among us Montanans, an estimated 9,500 veterans stand to lose their current health-care coverage through Medicaid if I-185 does not pass.
As a veteran, I know firsthand the sacrifices made by those who chose to serve our country, and the least we can do is provide health-care coverage to those who have given up so much for our country.
Internal documents show large tobacco corporations systematically targeted members of the military because they believed they were more likely to become addicted to their deadly products. It’s wrong that so many service members have put their lives on the line for our country, only to bear the burden of increased risks of lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and many other diseases related to tobacco use.
I-185 will provide funding not only to help veterans kick tobacco, but also provide important health services including veterans suicide prevention programs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ranks Montana first in the nation among veterans who have died by suicide.
Voters in Montana have an incredible opportunity to save lives and stand up for our military members who not only carry the wounds of war, but are continuing to fight for their lives because of Big Tobacco’s lies. A yes vote on I-185 is a vote for our veterans. I support I-185 and I hope you will too.
Alex Taft of Missoula is a retired lieutenant, U.S. Navy Reserve.