North Redington Shores - Before departing Friday to join the Bush family in celebration of the christening of the George H.W. Bush naval aircraft carrier, Congressman Bill Young, and his wife Beverly, lunched at the Wine Cellar with the Belleair Women Republicans Club (BWRC) at their monthly meeting.
Congressman Young (R-Indian Shores) is serving his 18th term in Congress representing the tenth Congressional District of Florida. He is the senior member of the Florida congressional delegation and the senior Republican in the House of Representatives. He and his wife are committed advocates who support the military troops, veterans and their families.
Last January Mrs. Young found herself in the national spotlight when she was escorted out of the National Gallery during a presidential state of the union address because of her attire. Wearing the exact t-shirt that got her kicked out of the capital she explained to the BWRC what really happened that day.
Young said that she had been visiting wounded soldiers at Bethesda Hospital in Washington D.C. and hadn't planned on attending the President's state of the union address. "I gave my ticket to the surgeon general of the navy," she said.
Later another congressman gave her husband an extra ticket. Young ended up going after all, wearing a leather jacket over the t-shirt. Once there, she was required to take the jacket off, exposing her t-shirt. "I honestly did not intend for what happened to happen," she said.
Young's t-shirt reads: "Support the Troops - Defending Our Freedom." Capital police accused her of wearing it as a way to protest and asked her to leave, which she did. "I'm not allowed to say what happened later because Bill's running for office," Young explained with a smile. The capital police chief later made a public apology.
A marine unit serving in Iraq heard about Young's ordeal and asked her to mail the t-shirt to them. The unit signed the shirt and sent it back to Young. "It spent six months in Iraq. Some of the guys who signed it didn't come home," said Young.
Young told the BWRC that her experiences as a volunteer visiting and mentoring wounded soldiers in Washington and Tampa Bay has prompted her to let President Bush know what many so often tell her, "I spend so much time at the hospital and I have never once heard a soldier say, 'We should not be in Iraq.' They say they don't want to go back, but if they have to they will."
Young's commitment goes beyond just helping the injured soldiers. She works to help the families of wounded military men and women overcome the countless combinations of financial hardships they must face. For example, many family members of injured military personnel lose their jobs because they took time off to care for their spouse, son or daughter.
Young serves on the board of the Armed Forces Foundation and encourages those who wish to donate to give to that charity. "Ninety seven cents on every dollar goes to the soldiers. Others are very good but have higher administrative costs," said Young.
The Armed Forces Foundation (armedforcesfoundation.org) is based in Washington, DC and works to improve the quality of life of members of the armed forces. Their numerous programs include the Armed Forces Foundation Housing Assistance program, which provides injured service members and their families with money to renovate their homes to accommodate their injuries. The foundation also helps military families by paying hotel bills and providing cash assistance.
Congressman Young's message to the BWRC focused on the politics of war and the upcoming mid term election. He reminded them of the specific attacks the US sustained over the past 12 years from Al Queda and Muslim fundamental extremists prior to US troops ever setting foot in Iraq.
He defended the President, "Besides all of the criticism he's getting these days, he's keeping his word. He said he'd track down the terrorists and that's what he's doing."
The Congressman was pressed for time but before leaving for Virginia he encouraged the BWRC to keep the faith, "The Democrats want you to be depressed and want you to think your party didn't do a good job. Don't stay home and let them take over."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition