Rep. Kristi Noem
You often times don't have to look far to find a family that's been failed by our broken mental healthcare system — and with nearly 30,000 adults and about 9,000 children living with serious mental health conditions in South Dakota, it's a challenge I'd guess most families can, to some degree, relate to.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Gettysburg battlefield and the cemetery where President Lincoln delivered his famous address. Today, scattered throughout the hills that made up the fighting plain are statues, markers, and memorials dedicated to those who fought. Toward the middle of the battlefield stands the Eternal Light Peace Memorial with the inscription: "an enduring light to guide us in unity and fellowship."
Late into the evening on July 22, 2015, a young woman arrived in the Emergency Room of the Indian Health Service hospital in Rosebud. She was having contractions — each about two and a half minutes apart. The baby was coming. Still, nursing staff allowed the young woman to leave and use the restroom. Minutes later, her boyfriend started yelling from the bathroom. He needed a doctor. The baby had been born on the floor.
We live in very troubling times. Groups like ISIL are determined to destroy us and our system of values. Our allies, including Israel and South Korea, endure unremitting military threats. Russia and China are using economic and military forces to expand their global influence. Middle East instability — particularly as it relates to the Syrian civil war — is pushing millions of refugees into Europe and raising questions about the impact such an influx will have on their borders, economy, and safety as well as America's national security.
It could start with a headache. Or perhaps an injury from sports or even a military deployment. Maybe it was a surgery and the prescription pain medication was supposed to be used only for a short time. Eventually, however, the medicine you relied on to heal became the drug that made you sick.
This statement from Winston Churchill is a very appropriate reminder as we approach April 15, Tax Day: "Can a people tax themselves into prosperity? Can a man stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle?" The answer is obvious, and yet, year after year, the Obama administration has advocated for economic policies that shift a greater burden onto the shoulders of hardworking taxpayers. That isn't the right approach.
It was 1942—less than a year after Pearl Harbor and months after America officially entered World War II. Tens of thousands of men had left their families to serve their country. Millions more were standing at the ready to do the same. And still, the United States faced a severe shortage of military pilots. As businesses and factories had already done, the Army turned to women.
Earlier this month, people around the country celebrated National Agriculture Day. In South Dakota, our lives and livelihoods are deeply tied to agriculture—whether we live in town or on a farm. But in so many other areas of this country, people are fundamentally disconnected from the way their food is produced.
The poverty problem in our country — in our own state — breaks my heart. It's more than a lack of cash flow. It's a deficiency of opportunity, of hope. It's a seemingly inescapable reality for many that is time and again passed down from generation to generation. And the programs put in place to help often perpetuate the problem. In the last seven years, the cycle of poverty has not only continued, it's accelerated. Since President Obama took office, around 6 million more Americans have slipped into poverty.
Washington often forgets a reality President Reagan so succinctly explained: "[T]he Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government." One of my primary objectives as South Dakota's sole member of the House of Representatives is to reduce the federal government's influence, giving state and local governments as well as individuals more opportunities to make the decisions that impact their families and communities most. This was something I spoke with the South Dakota State Legislature about earlier this month.