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Augusta-area leaders tout Stacey Abrams' support for military

Augusta Chronicle - 7/6/2018

July 06--A group of area military women affirmed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams' commitment to veterans and the military at a Thursday news conference.

Abrams unveiled her military and veterans platform in April, prior to winning the Democratic nomination. The six-point platform includes a commitment to protecting veterans and military families from practices such as predatory lending, assisting veterans with transitions to civilian life, protecting military bases from closure, supporting rural-based veterans and respecting the diversity of America's troops.

State Rep. Gloria Frazier of Augusta, an Army wife who moved 12 times in 23 years, said she'd worked with Abrams when Abrams was house Democratic leader on "A Promise Kept" legislation. One result was the 2016 "Military Spouses and Veterans Licensure Act" which requires professions and businesses to expedite licensing for military spouses and transitioning service members, Frazier said.

"I know (Abrams) has bold ideas to get these issues done," Frazier said. "Stacey Abrams knows our diversity is our strength in Georgia and veterans are a valuable part of that diversity."

Frazier said Abrams supports creating an office of military inclusion to support women in armed forces.

"I can't wait to see what she accomplishes for our military families and veterans as our next governor," Frazier said.

Ceretta Smith, an Army veteran and current president of the American Federation of Government Employees on Fort Gordon, said Fort Gordon is home to roughly 40 military units, while some 20,000 veterans make Augusta their home.

"I know Stacey Abrams believes in veterans and cares about veterans just like me," Smith said. "She already has a strong record in this area aimed at removing barriers. Now she has a plan to build upon this progress."

That includes a commitment to economic mobility of veterans and their success in Georgia universities and technical colleges, as well as expanding Medicaid to aid veterans, rural areas and make mental health and substance abuse treatment more readily available, Smith said.

"Under Abrams' leadership, our veterans will thrive economically and be incentivized to keep Georgia their home," she said.

Asked to comment on the news conference, Abrams, who did not attend, said if elected she "will work to tackle the unique challenges service members, veterans and their families face and ensure their access to health care, quality education and career opportunities."

Abrams will face either Brian Kemp or Casey Cagle, the two candidates headed to a July 24 runoff for the Republican nomination for governor. Cagle, who serves as Georgia lieutenant governor, has pledged to cut taxes on retirement benefits for veterans.

Kemp, current Georgia Secretary of State, has touted the office's support for the military such as expedited licensing, electronic ballot delivery for service members and the creation of a dedicated military liaison.

Deployed military often struggle to obtain and return ballots, while many stationed in the Augusta area vote in their home of record rather than locally.

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(c)2018 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)

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