Friday, September 18, 2020

Why I run to represent Rindge and Fitzwilliam as a House member in Concord

Imagine that I've just knocked on your door and I'll imagine that despite all odds, Sunday football games, and fear of Covid-19 transmission, you answer the knock.  

I'm running for one of the two seats representing Rindge and Fitzwilliam in the New Hampshire State Legislature.  This is my third time running for a Cheshire 11 seat.   

I hope you're well and that you haven't lost a job or income to the pandemic?  I hope you've got health insurance and that you're able to access preventative care in these challenging times?  What are your thoughts about education in NH and the schools where we send our children?   Are you still paying off college debt?   I hope you'll take time to respond to these questions by commenting on this post or you can email me at or call me at 899-2894.  Let's talk about what would make life better for people in Rindge and Fitzwilliam.

If you haven't lost patience with me by now, I tell you the main reason that I keep running.  

The West Coast is on fire, much like the wildfires that devastated Australia last year.  The air quality in Portland Oregon is the worst in the world and equivalent to smoking hundreds of cigarettes each day.  There are five hurricanes spinning off the Gulf Coast while Hurricane Sally drenches it in over 30 inches of rain.  

New Hampshire itself is under drought conditions and at risk for wildfires too.  

It is simply not true that these wildfires are a matter of improper forest management or arsonists.  

We need a World War level effort to transform our economy to run on clean energy and make it affordable for all.   Otherwise, our environment will continue to degrade until we can't depend on a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.  It's even possible that widespread wildfires will bring us to environmental collapse much sooner than anyone has predicted.  Will we suffocate on the smoke from these fires?  Will the ash cover the remaining snow packs and accelerate the melting of glaciers and release of methane in a feedback loop that results in a planet that resembles hell on earth? 

I've been involved with energy policy and the push for a clean energy future since my student days at UNH in the 1970s.  Since I retired 9 years ago, it's been the focus of my life.  In the last 4 years, I've been arrested twice for civil disobedience while protesting fossil fuel expansion.  Mostly, I've been involved in constructive activities to promote clean energy on a local level for the past 11 years as a member of the Rindge Energy Commission, the Monadnock Sustainability Hub, the Franklin Pierce Institute for Climate Action, and Sierra Club Ready for 100% initiatives in Keene and Peterborough.  

As a retired engineer, I'm convinced that we have the solutions and the technology we need TODAY to begin a rapid and just transition to a clean energy economy.  What we lack is the political will.  This is where you come in.

Whether or not I'm elected, I'll continue doing my best to fight the #ClimateCrisis.  The question is, what are you going to do?   I don't ask in order to shame or burden you.  I ask because I need to depend on you as much as you need to depend on me and others to save the future for our children.

Please vote for #ClimateChampions up and down the ballot.  Vote for me and Gene Andersen for the Cheshire 11 seats and Andrew Maneval for the Cheshire 14 seat.   The power to help New Hampshire change course on the #ClimateCrisis is in your hands.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Remembering my father

I spent Thanksgiving with my sister and her beautiful family.   My sister mentioned that, Caitlin, her granddaughter, recently asked why she never talked about our father, George Brady.
In the moment, we shared a few stories about this neat, quick, handsome and steady soul we called Dad.  He adored our mother and made no secret of it.  We talked a little about how he was hard to talk to about our worries.   He was famous for responding to any whining with, "Keep it up and I'll give you something to cry about."
Does that sound cruel?
But the thing about my Dad was that though he loved poetry and would recite his favorite, "The Rabbi Ben Ezra," by Robert Browning, at the drop of a hat, he really wasn't a man of words.
He expressed himself in a thousand other ways.  He was a great dancer and athlete.  He won a roller skating award as a young man.  Into his 60s, he could still do a handstand and back flip.
He was 40 when I was born, but one of my favorite memories is holding hands and skipping with him all the way to the "French Church" in Everett on a snowy morning when I nine or ten.  I estimate it at about a half mile away from our house.  I can still feel the joy and amazement of us leaping through the crisp air with whiteness all around and the diamond brilliance of ice on the trees flooding all my senses.  Heart pounding, lungs screaming and an animal spirit that  experienced boundless, wordless joy in the motion of our flight; I don't think I ever loved or connected with my Dad more than I did that morning.
I learned to be with someone and simply enjoy being alive together without words.
Dad put us to bed almost every night when we were little.  My older brother and sister had their own rooms, but my brothers and I shared a room until I was five or six.  Paul still slept in a crib.  My dad would lie down with us and tell us stories until we dropped off to sleep.
I associate my Dad with the faint smell of sweat and a hint of cigarettes.  Honest smells.  I know he had Old Spice in the bathroom, but I never knew him to splash it on or to use deodorant back in the 50s.  This may come as a shock, but most people (especially men) didn't start using deodorants until the late 50s.  It took Madison Avenue to make us aware of how "bad" we all smelled.
When I was in high school, Dad would often get up at 3 or 4 AM on a Saturday morning to take me, my brothers and their friends to play hockey in Charlestown.  I was included even though I hung around the end of the rink annoying them by doing tricks in my figure skates more often than I tried to play hockey. 
He taught us all how to swim and ice skate.
I never went riding with him until he was in his 70s, but he rode when he was young and had a cool pair of tweed jodhpurs that I appropriated when I was in my teens. 
He grew up poor and that seemed to make him very self-sufficient and resourceful.  My Dad once made chowder out of the eel my brother caught when he took us all fishing off a bridge in Lynn.  He made crab apple jelly from the tree in our yard.  He could fix anything (at least it seemed to me) from stitching shoes back together to ironing clothes.
There was a somewhat sad side to the poverty he knew as a child.  Every year at Christmas when we kids would start agitating about getting our Christmas tree, my father would exclaim, "No Christmas tree this year.  It's ridiculous and a waste of money.  It makes a huge mess."   My mom would just smile which made us all think he was kidding and we laughed it off.
Our Christmas tree didn't go up until a week before Christmas.  We could decorate the rest of the house, but the tree came late.  My Dad dutifully sawed off the end of the tree and sunk it in a metal bucket filled with rocks and water.
In my memory, our Christmas trees were always glorious and mesmerizing with those bubbling candles and lighted angel high atop. 
Actually, as I found out later, my Dad really didn't ever have a Christmas tree when he was a kid and considered it a frivolous waste of money.
Dad was a Certified Public Accountant for the federal government and a graduate of Bentley College.  He went to school while he worked in the office at Touraine Paints, Inc. in Everett, MA.
My Mom would often recount how impressed she was with his ambition and energy when she met him.  She'd tell us how he would hop on the streetcar to go to his classes at Bentley and then back on the streetcar to take him to the "Spanish Gables" in Revere to dance the rest of the night away.
Mom and Dad met through her brother, William Finnegan, who was friends with my Dad.  
When I was growing up, he was out the door each morning by 7 AM and walked over a mile to Everett Station to take the train into Boston.  He was home every night by 6 PM  and pitching in to get dinner on the table.
I wanted to get a few memories down and shared with Caitlin, Michelle and all the other grandchildren who never met or got to know George Brady and might wonder who he was.  There's much more to tell, but I hope this gives you some idea of the man who embodied both a wildness and a discipline that made him unique and delightful beyond words to describe.
Next time, I'll tell you about the shoes.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Autumn reflections and Mothers Out Front

My daily walk takes me past tumbling streams, ponds, cows, horses, wetlands and woods.  There's this one spot where the water rushes from a dam behind a screen of trees with leaves of deep pink and yellow.  Sun or cloud, that spot always seems to have its own light.
I never tire of this path.  It feeds my senses and reminds me why staying alive matters so much.
I'm not contemplating suicide if that last sentence sounds ominous.  No.  I'm seriously worried that the human race is going to either blow itself up or die a slow and ugly death as a result of runaway climate change.
Of course, having such dark thoughts concerns me.  What separates me from the people who simply continue going about their daily routines?   If I were young and still employed would I even notice the issues that seem to consume my every thought?  Have I become a "dotard?"  Am I the liberal version of a typical FOX News viewer? 
I don't think so.  I think there really is a reason to be concerned and that this worry is cross-generational.  For me, the evidence lies in organizations like Mothers Out Front.  I've been to their marches and rallies in West Roxbury and was very impressed with their unapologetic demand that politicians act to save the future for their children. 
I was delighted that MOF opened a NH Chapter and immediately joined.  
Next Tuesday, Nov 14th, Mothers Out Front's, Emily Manns, is on a panel about creating "Green" hubs to support innovation.   It's at the Center for History and Culture in Peterborough at 7 PM.
I'm really looking forward to it.
That's it. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Basic expectations


 Dear Commissioners,

Thank you for granting my request to speak with you about my concerns regarding "Constitutional Carry"  (2017 SB 12) and the prosecution of gun crimes.

I have never taken much interest in gun law.   My public policy interests lie in advocacy for people with disabilities and for a clean energy economy.  I have never testified against any gun legislation and don't belong to any advocacy organizations for or against guns.  That may change in the future.

Frankly, if people are going to carry guns in public, I would rather that they are concealed.   I'll admit that "open carry" intimidates me and sends a chill down my spine.  I expect to see weapons in the hands of the military or law enforcement; not my neighbors.  The sight of a person openly carrying a gun triggers alarms for me.  I suspect that people carrying guns in full sight (especially long guns) know the reaction of fear and anxiety they cause in others.

Despite not liking guns, I'm a veteran of the USAF and the NH Air National Guard.  The most lethal weapon I ever handled in the defense of my country was a soldering iron as an electronic technician on KC-135 tankers.  Does the fact that I wasn't trained to shoot make me less of a veteran or patriot?

I don't like guns, but as long as I don't have to see them and the gun owners are responsible, I agree that it's a basic right to own and carry them.   I never thought much about people carrying concealed weapons prior to the passage of "Constitutional Carry."   I knew that before Constitutional Carry, people who carried concealed weapons were screened by local police chiefs or select boards and that gave me some sense of security.  Now that this protection has been undone, I feel more must be done on the side of deterrence when a gun owner does not act responsibly.  It is my hope that the same people who advocated so strongly for Constitutional Carry will also advocate for stronger penalties for irresponsible gun use.

"Gun owners, of course, must always act responsibly -- but then lawful gun owners tend to act lawfully in the first place." ~Michael Walsh

And, in the formal record of a hearing on 1/10/17,  one of the major points in favor of SB 12,
"Those who are likely to carry out a crime are not likely to be dissuaded by a
misdemeanor punishment" ~Senator Bradley

Recently there was an instance of alleged criminal threatening  with a handgun in Rindge, NH.  The Cheshire County Attorney was unwilling to prosecute the case as criminal threatening.  The reason given was that the case was "weak."  Wouldn't you think that if the Town Prosecutor thought it should be a criminal threatening charge, the County Prosecutor would trust his judgement?

Since the accused denied the charge and was represented by a high powered NRA attorney, our County Prosecutor wanted to "just let it go."   Ultimately, the Town Prosecutor was allowed to proceed with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

I think the fact that the person accused of criminal threatening admitted to being engaged in a road rage incident and, while denying that he pointed a loaded weapon at 3 young people in a vehicle, claimed he'd pointed a black gloved hand at them, provides strong evidence of guilt.   (Police recovered a loaded gun from his vehicle.)

Isn't it true that even if a person is only using a fake gun in a robbery, it's still considered felony armed robbery?  Why are there greater penalties for threatening to take money from a bank than for intimidating people?   If the person being robbed thinks it's a gun, the criminal is prosecuted for that crime.

"Stand your ground" law in New Hampshire would also indicate that if the young people in the other car were armed, they would be legally justified if they shot the person who they thought was pointing a gun at them while they were stuck at a light.  What if they had panicked and pulled out into oncoming traffic endangering other lives?  The person accused of brandishing the weapon is also a member of a citizen's militia group and I'm certain is well acquainted with gun law.

In the end, the accused plead no contest to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and paid a fine.  He still gets to carry a gun.  He wasn't assigned to any anger management or gun safety training.

I can understand why the parents of the young victims may not have been enthusiastic about hiring their own attorney or filing a lawsuit.   Who wants to spend time and money in court and possibly become the target of NRA activists or the local militia?  

Most of the statements in favor of SB 12 argued that the existing system of issuing permits caused some people to feel that they were unlawfully denied a permit by local authorities and that challenging such denials was expensive.  Penny Dean, an attorney practicing in ME, NH, and DC stated,
 "Senator Gannon asked how much it costs on average to challenge a denial. 
In general between $10,000 and $50,000 to do it correctly, but it is not just the money, as some people are concerned about losing their jobs."

It seems to me that SB 12 has shifted the burden of disarming irresponsible gun owners from fellow gun owners and local law enforcement to the unsuspecting general public.

What are we to do? 

I contend that if the State chooses to take away local control and the discretion of local authorities, it must find a remedy for situations in which guns wind up in the hands of the wrong people.   As Senator Bradley noted,  "Those who are likely to carry out a crime are not likely to be dissuaded by a
misdemeanor punishment."   Perhaps criminal threatening with a gun should be an automatic felony charge? 

I am not satisfied that justice was done nor that the rights of the people of Cheshire County were adequately represented.  

I'm here today to ask you to engage and to act on behalf of the unarmed citizens of Cheshire County.  Failing that, I'm asking for your advice on how to proceed so that NH doesn't become the "Wild West," where everyone must arm themselves for protection because law enforcement fails to take gun crime seriously.

Thank you.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Daniel Webster to the rescue?

"Webster then grabs the stranger and twists his arm behind his back, "for he knew that once you bested anybody like Mr. Scratch in fair fight, his power on you was gone." Webster makes him agree "never to bother Jabez Stone nor his heirs or assigns nor any other New Hampshire man till doomsday!""

I'm watching the 60 Minutes coverage on the earthquakes in Oklahoma on this Sunday, September 11th.  9-11.  The title of the piece is "Earthquake Alley."  It got me to thinking about just how awful the idea of selling Concord Steam to Liberty Utilities is.  All the State, School, City and Commercial buildings in downtown Concord will burn fracked gas instead of taking steam co-generated with bio-mass.  The PUC order for the procedure to approve the sale is DG 16-770 and all documents can be viewed here,

I will grant you that there is an "inversion" problem in Concord, so a biomass plant has to have the proper environmental controls, but surely there are other solutions than converting to fracked gas?  Getting rid of that smog here by burning fracked gas will just contribute to people with poisoned water and air who live in the fracking fields and the paths of these pipelines.   We are creating virtual "Hells" in areas of Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.  At least we can see the smog!  We can't see the methane and the formaldehyde and other poisonous gases that will be released into neighborhoods where the metering and regulation and compressor stations are built.

Perhaps it sounds melodramatic to argue that selling Concord Steam to Liberty Utilities is like selling New Hampshire's soul and future to the devil?  But, of all places to sell out to fracked gas; the State Capital!!!  Where is the innovation?  Where is the environmental concern?  Any large city or campus converting from biomass to fracked gas would be bad enough, but the State Capital should be a flagship for a renewable future!

New Hampshire had her own "Daniel Websters" at the adjudicative hearing of the sale of Concord Steam to Liberty Utilities on Friday, September 9th.  Both Office of Consumer Advocate, Don Kreis, and Attorney Richard Husband of Litchfield, pleaded to conduct a fully transparent process.

Attorney Richard Husband, in particular, complained of the lack of discovery which would allow a more thorough investigation of alternatives and answer questions about procedure.  The sale is being fast tracked, yet the filing was not described as an emergency.   

I do not mean to characterize the PUC as "Old Scratch."  They are following the rules which not only gives them the discretion to treat this contract as an "emergency," but encourages them to do so.

I inserted myself into a small group that was poring over a blueprint of the steam lines in Concord during a break in the hearing.  I heard one of them discuss the loop of steam pipes that will still be used, but cut off from the rest of the network and fitted out with a gas fired boiler.  Someone asked where the boiler would go.  Another replied, "In front of the State House!" and laughed.  Before I could stop myself, I retorted, "Yes.  It should.  As a symbol of our shame!"  Before anyone gets too excited, they actually pointed out an area well away from the State House where the boiler will go.

Still, it gave me an idea.  If I were a cartoonist, I would draw the front of the State House with Daniel Webster now standing atop a huge nasty boiler with a line feeding it that tracked back to scenes of environmental devastation and choking, gasping people.

I'd planned to write another comment on PUC Docket DG 16-770, refuting the numbers offered by PUC staff describing gas prices as $0.95 per Therm versus $5.00 per Therm for Concord Steam.  $0.95 per therm might be the price for the day, but what is the 5 year average?  I did find that the price over the last five years has been closer to $2.00 per Therm.
I didn't have any luck getting the five year average price for Concord Steam customers, but the fact of having the steam delivered instead of having to operate and maintain a boiler needs some value attached to the price per Therm.  To me, that is another reason for there to be a formal discovery process.

Liberty officials argued that bringing fracked gas to the downtown would increase energy diversity and argued that they are supported by this in the 10 Year State Energy Strategy.  In fact, no diversity is created at all!  Customers in Concord will now have gas, but they won't have the option of steam anymore.  Moreover, the customer list is being sold to Liberty Utilities in exchange for $1.9 Million!  Who else will have access to that list?  Solar installers?  Energy Efficiency and heat pump vendors?  Worse, a renewable biomass producer will go dark; sending New Hampshire in the wrong direction for getting to 25% renewable energy by 2025. 

At least "Old Scratch" agreed to Daniel Webster's plea for a Fair Trial.  Why won't our PUC allow time for discovery and full participation by The Jordan Institute and the people of New Hampshire, like Attorney Husband, who are qualified and have a significant interest in the outcome?

The OCA's argument that The Jordan Institute be allowed to intervene based on statute like the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) was rebuffed on the basis that it wasn't yet in effect.  Attorney Kreis also referenced RSA 378:7 that requires all energy infrastructure projects to consider the impact of energy efficiency first,

Unfortunately, the Commission argued that the RSA does not apply to the sale of Concord Steam and referenced legislation (that did not pass) which would prohibit the PUC from considering carbon emissions or Climate Change in their deliberations.

Daniel Webster succeeded, not by law, but by evoking the goodness of the "undead" who served on the jury, their willingness to try, even if they weren't perfect, and the sweetness of life despite hard circumstances.  People have a chance to send in their comments until Friday, September 16th.   Let the weight of our words inspire the interveners to the docket to choose a different path.

Comments may be sent to Executive Director Debra Howland at
Debra Howland, Executive Director
NH Public Utilities Commission
21 South Fruit Street, Suite 10,
Concord, N.H. 03301-2429
and reference Liberty Utilities (LU) Docket DG 16-770 Petition to Purchase Concord

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What can we learn from the failure of HB 1660?

HB 1660 was a modest proposition.  It stipulated that if a pipeline company planned to take a portion of your land that was within 250 feet of your residence, you could insist they buy you out for fair market value and cover relocation expenses.  If you didn't like the appraised value they offered on any taking, you could hire your own appraiser at the pipeline company's expense. 

Of course, this wouldn't help abutters whose residences may be even closer.  And, truthfully, 250 feet isn't much comfort with the incineration zone for a 30 inch, 1400 psi pipeline having a radius of 1000 feet.  In case the name doesn't make it obvious; an incineration zone describes an area that will reach temperatures so high everything in it's radius will be cremated.  

State law for eminent domain takings by utilities offer a more generous solution, "Attempts to even enter a property for surveying require 30-day prior notification, and successful seizures of residential property require the owner receive “reasonable relocation and housing replacement costs.”" from

As the bill's sponsors pointed out, pipeline companies claim that a buried pipeline does not have a negative impact on property values.  If that is the case, then it should be no problem to buy out a homeowner and resell the property to people who don't mind living with a pipeline.

For residents of Southern New Hampshire, passage of HB 1660 would provide a small measure of comfort after the trauma they've been facing for the last 18 months.

That didn't happen.

While many House members were focused on protecting property owners by mitigating the harms that would be done through eminent domain takings, the Senate took a different approach.

 My next project will be to study the legislative history of RGGI in New Hampshire.  RGGI funds come from a carbon tax on power generators who sell into the ISO-NE market.  Currently, they pay about $5/Ton of carbon they produce.  The money is intended to be used to mitigate and reduce carbon emissions.

In New Hampshire, under current law, all the money except the first $1/Ton is rebated back to electric customers on a per kWh basis.  The total funds available for rebate amounts to about $1.70 per month for an average residential customer.  A large manufacturer could see thousands of dollars in rebates each month. 

SB 492 was also a modest proposal.  It would have increased the amount of funding for weatherizing low income residential homes to 35% of revenues instead of the current 20%.  It would also increase the funding for municipal and school district energy projects from $2 to $5 million, annually.

The Business Industry Association and BAE Systems, who normally testify against anything related to energy efficiency and RGGI, supported SB 492 because although it increased funding from RGGI proceeds for the residential market, it rebated all RGGI contributions for the Commercial and Industrial ratepayers.  So those large manufacturers would get thousands of dollars in rebates each month, but would not have access to funding and programs that support energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The three targets for RGGI funding and programs would benefit all ratepayers and taxpayers in the State. 

The low income weatherization program is just plain common sense.  Residents who qualify for fuel assistance would get help reducing their energy usage through energy audits and weatherization/efficiency projects.  Doesn't it make sense to ensure that the energy dollars we are spending on those homes are being used efficiently?   There are currently 10,000 low income homes on a waiting list for weatherization.  Current funding only allows for about 400 homes per year to be weatherized.   We could be addressing 2000 homes per year if we fully invested RGGI funds as they were intended.  Think of the relief we could offer to struggling families! 

The municipal and school district funding would make pots of money available to reduce the cost to local residents for energy efficiency and renewable projects on municipal and school district buildings.  These funds seldom cover the entire cost of a project; they just provide grants to help make it more affordable.  The big need for funds for schools and towns is that they don't pay federal taxes and therefore can't benefit from tax credits. 

SB 492 was the perfect bill for the House to pass on RGGI.  It was fair to all ratepayers.  It made the BIA and BAE Systems happy.  It would have demonstrated "reasonableness" on energy issues.  If we're going to prevent pipelines; we have to support other approaches to reducing energy costs. 

But SB 492 wasn't a perfect bill.  First of all, I would be very surprised if most Business Industry Association (BIA) members agree with the positions against renewable energy and energy efficiency the BIA takes in the name of its members.  Who is paying for the Energize NH campaign?  Local Chambers might not be very happy to find their membership dollars being spent to lobby against fair deals for net metering that may help them hold down the bottom line on energy expenses.  But, I suspect the funding actually comes from the American Petroleum Institute and America's Natural Gas Alliance.  (They paid for the "La Capra" Study that the utilities and BIA quote from at all the legislative and PUC hearings.)

Moreover, RGGI is currently in the review process and the NH PUC is establishing an Energy Efficiency Renewable Standard (EERS).  There may be needed legislative changes as a result of these procedures in the next Session. 

I wish that the Senate, with eight members on the way out, had found it in their hearts to pass HB 1660 and extract a promise of cooperation from the House on RGGI in the next session.  Allowing SB 492 to pass would have looked like an "olive branch" from the House.  Both Chambers failed us. 

We need Chamber members across the state to start talking about positions on Net Metering and RGGI.  Does the BIA really reflect your will? 

We need House members to fully embrace RGGI and stop messing about with the Renewable Energy Fund.  Review years are actually written into the legislation.  Don't muck about with the rules in between those periods.  It makes it extremely difficult for energy companies to write proposals or business plans when the rules and funding keep changing. 

Make sure your Representatives KNOW you support RGGI and the Renewable Energy Fund.  Ask them about it as they start campaigning this summer.  Call BS on them if they start talking about "redistribution of wealth."  The RGGI fund is a perfect example of capitalism.  We, the people, invest the capital from RGGI in projects to reduce the need for more infrastructure.  Our $1.70/month rebate won't make much difference in our lives, but saving 20% per year on our heating bills will! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - Donald Trump has no sense of shame or honor

Memorial Day is really not about veterans.  By definition, it can't be.  Memorial Day honors the memory of the men and women who died while serving in the US Military.  Those who made the ultimate sacrifice seldom had the chance to become veterans unless they served in more than one war.
I am honestly offended by Trump using "Rolling Thunder" as a political event.  I don't like what he said about illegal immigrants being treated better than our veterans.  Please.
I'm an Air Force veteran.  I went to school on GI Bill and PELL grants.  I only owed $850 when I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from UNH in 1978.  I use the VA Healthcare system and can attest to its excellence for my care and that of my husband.  Because of the VA, I'm an avid supporter of single payer healthcare.  I am very grateful for the services I've received from my country in return for 6 years of my life. 
My husband volunteered to serve as a Marine during Vietnam.  His relationship with the VA has been more problematic if you consider the first years after he came home from Vietnam.  His PTSD made it impossible for him to sit in a classroom; so the GI Bill was of no use to him.  However, since 2000, the VA acknowledged both the effects of PTSD and Agent Orange exposure and he has some peace at last.
I don't want to minimize the problem of serving our younger veterans of IAVA through the VA.  I DO believe that there are administrative problems, but as someone who has worked in healthcare, I can honestly say that the VA has it together better than a lot of private hospitals/insurance companies.  I continued to use the VA for my healthcare even when I had private insurance to reimburse them.
When my husband was hospitalized at the VA in West Roxbury for surgery last year, I was able to spend the 4 days he was there at the Fisher House.  I could be with him every moment he was awake and simply walk across the street to sleep in a lovely room in the guest house. 
Please, Mr. Trump, you have no concept what it means to be a veteran.  Keep your hands off the VA healthcare system.  We know you want to privatize it.  Anyway you and your friends can get a piece of the action, right? 
By the way, there are many immigrants and first generation sons and daughters of immigrants serving in the military.  One of the most valuable experiences I acquired in the service was the opportunity to live and work with people from Upstate Maine to the barrios of LA.  I feel I got to see the real America.
I know many immigrants (legal or otherwise) who are providing front line healthcare for a growing population of our seniors and people with disabilities.  I've done this work; it is exhausting and doesn't often pay well or come with benefits.  Most people have to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.   We would have a crisis in our healthcare system without people from all over the world who are willing to do this work with gratitude and kindness. 
Most of all,  I find it repugnant that the man who mocked Vietnam POW, Senator John McCain, should hijack the spirit of Rolling Thunder.  "Rolling Thunder is a United States advocacy group that seeks to bring full accountability for prisoners of war and missing in action service members of all U.S. wars. The group's first demonstration was in 1988." from Wikipedia  
So, my fellow citizens, I have no complaint about my treatment as a veteran.  Thank you for all you have done for me and my husband.   Thank you to Senator John McCain for all he suffered on our behalf.  And, most of all, thanks to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice...even if it means that a blowhard like Donald Trump can capitalize on it to spew hate against people hanging on by their fingernails.  Despicable!