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Our View: Veterans support is something we can all get behind

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Charlie Brown, a candidate for the 4th Congressional District, recently donated $17,500 to groups that serve local veterans. Giving 5 percent of the funds he has raised to help local veterans was an innovative idea and Brown should be applauded by anyone who truly supports the troops. While you might not agree with anything else Brown does, giving money to veterans' charities is a nice gesture. Yet Brown, a Democrat, has been criticized by Republicans who are campaigning against him for politicizing veterans' causes. Huh? Can't we all support our returning veterans without getting into partisan bickering? Here is a sample of what candidates and former candidates who oppose Brown told Gold Country Media reporter Nathan Donato-Weinstein. Stan Devereaux, spokesman for the Tom McClintock campaign, said he could not comment on what he said wasn't a real news story. Veterans who are benefiting from the contributions and who have contacted the Journal en masse disagree. They appreciate any help they can get. And they appreciate Brown's donations. Eric Egland, a security consultant who bowed out of the congressional race after raising more than $70,000, said he was appalled at Brown's public donation to local veterans' charities. Egland, who now supports McClintock, said Brown was using veteran's care as a political prop. But veterans who have contacted the Journal said they appreciate Brown's efforts on their behalf. Probably the savviest comment from a political consultant came from Republican challenger Doug Ose's campaign. Ose spokesman Doug Elmets at least admitted that giving money to help local veterans is a good thing. But he, too, questioned what motivated Brown. As altruistic as it is, and admittedly it's a very positive effort, one just looks at it with suspicion and wonders whether it's politically driven, Elmets said. Brown is a retired Air Force Lt. Col. who has a son in the service. He has a very personal stake in supporting the troops. In a letter to the Auburn Journal, published on auburnjournal.com and signed by 25 veterans who support Brown, the former military personnel summed it up like this: War carries lasting scars that aren't always visible. One in three homeless is a veteran ” and we don't come home that way. Veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide, and are at greater risk for substance abuse, family and other problems than their civilian counterparts. Chronically underfunded by politicians, the VA is already stretched to its breaking point ” and even with recent funding increases, will be for decades to come. That's where community-based services, like the ones Charlie Brown is supporting, play the crucial role of filling in the gaps. The 4th Congressional District race is bound to be hard fought. But it should be fought on issues, not personal attacks. It's appalling how our government has treated many returning veterans. Supporting veterans and local veterans charities is something we can all get behind.