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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 107,650

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Henderson County Dems: Jeff Jackson will be at East Flat Rock Park

tomorrow at 5:30pm.

I think heíll be in Buncombe earlier that same day as well.

Jeff Jackson: Bottom-up approach to military suicides is needed

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from the National Guard died by suicide.
He was a great Soldier and a great father. Heís not a statistic - heís a person.
But he joins a tragic group of service members who have taken their lives since September 11th, 2001.

30,177 service members have died by suicide since September 11th.
Thatís quadruple the number of deaths due to military operations in the same period.

Iíve been in the military for 18 years. Heís not the first one of my friends Iíve lost to suicide. And while suicide remains a major problem for all of our military components, the National Guard has the highest rate.

Over the years, I canít tell you how many suicide prevention PowerPoint briefings Iíve been required to sit through with the rest of the platoon. Itís check-the-box training that we all receive.

The numbers speak for themselves: Slideshow training isnít enough.

In North Carolina, weíve got over 700,000 veterans, so this hits us hard. The VA estimates that as many as 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In our town halls across the state, it comes up repeatedly. Suicide prevention - and mental health services more generally - for our service members deserves to be part of any agenda focused on solving problems in our state.

Here are some steps we should take:
1) Mandate the VA develop and implement suicide prevention training that ditches the PowerPoint approach and takes a skills-based approach.

Too often, the military approaches suicide prevention the same way it approaches teaching new recruits about their chain of command: They show some slides and ask if anyone has any questions. Instead, we should approach it the same way we approach learning how to treat a casualty or learning to assemble your rifle: itís a skill youíre expected to practice.

With suicide prevention, spotting indicators among your buddies, knowing how to talk to them, and knowing what steps to take when those indicators persist are all skills that need training - not a simple slideshow that lets command check the box.
This will be harder. It will take more time on the training schedule. But when it comes to suicide prevention we are currently operating in a state of failure and we need to acknowledge that and let it motivate us to build an effective solution.

2) Invest in high-quality tele-health
Only half of our veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who need mental health service actually get it. More of them would seek care if it were made easier. Once a service member realizes they may need help, they should be able to quickly and easily schedule a phone or digital meeting with a Suicide Prevention Counselor at the VA.

3) Increase the number of Suicide Prevention Coordinators at the VA
The Government Accountability Office recently found that the VA simply doesnít know how heavy the workload is and doesnít have a clear sense of what staffing changes need to be made to meet the demand.

This aligns with a broad-based understaffing at the VA, which was recently reported to have approximately 50,000 staff vacancies. This is an issue of underfunding and every politician that gives lip service to supporting the troops must prioritize their health when veterans return home.

4) Support medical cannabis
I support a transition from our current criminal approach to cannabis to a legalized and regulatory approach.
Right now in the General Assembly there is a bill to consider taking the small (and overdue) step of allowing cannabis for medicinal purposes.

That the bill is making progress is a surprise, given that the majority party has resisted any movement in this direction for years. In committee, however, they heard very compelling testimony from former military service members about how access to medical cannabis (supplied by other states) had profoundly positive effects on their PTSD.
We should take their testimony seriously and - at a minimum - allow for the medicinal use of cannabis.

5) Address veteran homelessness by fully funding Housing Choice Vouchers
This is addressed more broadly in our section on affordable housing, but Housing Choice Vouchers - formerly known as Section 8 vouchers - are the main way we assist very low income individuals in obtaining housing. But we dramatically underfund the program. If we fully funded the program, it would significantly reduce homelessness and previous expansions have been particularly effective at reducing veteran homelessness.

The connection between mental health and homelessness is direct. Before you can provide sustained and effective mental health treatment, you have to provide housing security. Thatís how we take people out of ďsurvival modeĒ and create the possibility for effective treatment, but itís also how we solve logistical problems associated with providing treatment, like case workers knowing where they can meet with their clients.

Just to be candid - these arenít all the answers. No one has all the answers on this. But there are some pretty important things we arenít doing that would make a real difference - and they donít involve a new task force or new red tape.

We need a bottom-up approach that starts with the service member and imagines what an effective solution would look like from that perspective.

- Sen. Jeff Jackson

Hi. Anyone here in Boone area? Need guidance.

Looking to rent room in house or an apartment for school year and need some leads.

Baby BLM is starting her senior year in August and prefers to stay away from the party scenes at most of the apartment complexes around App State.

"a lonely soldier. Away from home, through no wish of my own." (Mr. Lonely)


Adding to the Southern Rock mission: Mother's Finest

Rotten police bodycam law pushed through by NCGOP in 2016.

From Jeff Jackson:
Here's what's going on with police body camera footage in North Carolina, and why it's become such an issue in the case of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City:
In 2016, then Gov. McCrory signed HB 972 into law. It had passed the state Senate 48-2.
I was one of the 2 who voted against it.

The bill essentially said that bodycam footage would no longer be considered a "public record."
As a result, it created two pathways for people to see the footage.
The first pathway just lets people view the footage in private and does not release it to the public.

The rule on this is the police get to determine who views the footage privately.
So if you think you were mistreated during a traffic stop and you want to see the footage - privately, with no public release - the police essentially get to determine whether or not that happens.

If they say no, you can appeal to court, but the court can only overrule the police if they feel the police ďabused their discretion,Ē which is the highest standard of proof in civil law. So itís very, very hard to overrule their decision.

The second pathway to seeing the footage is getting it released to the public.
Here, the police donít have any authority. Itís a 100% judicial decision. So even if the police call for the public release of the footage - as they now are in the case of Andrew Brown - it doesnít matter. The court makes the decision.
Notably, thereís no timeframe in the law for the court to decide. Weíve seen these decisions take days, weeks, or months.

In the case of Andrew Brown, the judge bizarrely ruled that the media did not have standing (i.e., legal eligibility) to request the release of the footage. Thereís nothing in the law about that and thereís clear precedent to the contrary. There are dozens of cases to the contrary. The ruling, to be blunt, was incorrect.

The judge also ruled that the footage will be released in 30-45 days.
Thatís very strange given that even the local sheriff is calling for the immediate release of the footage and said he was ďdisappointedĒ by the ruling.

What weíre seeing are the actual consequences of a law that stacks the deck against release of footage, and thatís having immediate impacts on the ground in Elizabeth City.
Everyone recognizes that there are interests that need to be balanced here, but when the footage isnít legally recognized as a public record it means transparency can be treated as an afterthought.
And when transparency gets pushed aside, the public reacts. Suspicion deepens - often with good reason.

Currently, there are several legislative proposals for reforming this law in a way that would allow for a fair and sensible balancing of interests that elevates the concern for transparency. I support those efforts, but Iím also open to new ideas that havenít been offered yet.
What Iím not open to is doing nothing in the face of a law that obviously isnít serving the public. We need a sense of urgency about this and Iím ready to work with anyone who cares about getting this right.

- Sen. Jeff Jackson

Why yes, there IS film of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dick Dale playing together.

Angelina Jordan's voice brings another reactor to tears

This performance was in practice stage so sheís obviously glimpsing at the lyrics, yet, itís still pure and masterful.

NC Senate: 14,000 small donors give $1.3m to Jeff Jackson campaign


North Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson had a sizeable fundraising advantage entering this month over other Democratic opponents in the 2022 U.S. Senate race, while a former Republican congressman running also has flush coffers so far, according to new campaign finance reports.

Jacksonís committee raised nearly $1.3 million between the time he announced his candidacy in late January and the end of March, and had more than $838,000 in cash on hand. He also outraised former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, a Republican who announced his bid in December to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr.

NC Republican bullies going after trans kids, again.

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