On Saturday, many Montanans found ways to come together and honor the veterans who have given so much for the freedoms and security that we too often take for granted.

As a veteran who served in Iraq as a medical service officer, I hope that Veterans Day can also be a reminder to all of us that we can and should do more for the individuals and families whose lives have been forever changed by their service. One small but meaningful way to support veterans who may be struggling to provide adequate and healthy food for themselves and their families is to speak up and voice support for programs and services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) that can provide a little extra help for those who need it as they return to civilian life or struggle to make ends meet.

Roughly 10 percent of Montanans are veterans, making Montana one of the states with the highest percentage of residents who have served our nation. Virtually every one of us knows someone who has been touched by that service, and we know that can come at a cost. For example, recent veterans experience higher unemployment rates than their civilian counterparts, and those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. For the almost 1.5 million veterans accessing SNAP nationally, the program can be lifeline.

Congress is considering as much as $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that will add to our national deficit and inevitably create pressure to make deep cuts to programs like SNAP that help so many of our seniors, children, people with disabilities, and, yes, veterans make ends meet.

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Please join me in reaching out to Congressman Gianforte, Sen. Daines, and Sen. Tester, and ask them to stand with our veterans by voting against tax cuts for those who need it least and supporting full funding for programs like SNAP that are so crucial to the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Tyler Gence

Missoula

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