VoteVets PAC Endorses Representative James Smith

Smith receives national attention from leading veterans group

COLUMBIA, SC - On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, VoteVets PAC, the largest progressive Veterans organization in America, announced their endorsement of Representative James Smith to be Governor of South Carolina. Founded in 2006 and backed by more than 500,000 veterans, military family members, and their supporters, the mission of VoteVets PAC is to elect veterans to public office, with a focus on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and hold public officials accountable for their words and actions that impact America's 21st Century troops and veterans.

“James Smith is the very definition of what a patriotic public servant is, and that’s why he’s going to win the primary, and be the next Governor of South Carolina,” said Rick Hegdahl, veterans outreach director for VoteVets. “The men and women who become JAGs instead of looking for money in private practice are all dedicated public servants. But for James to give that up, so he could join and serve with the infantry in Afghanistan, after 9/11, is above and beyond what this country calls for. With James Smith as Governor, South Carolinians will know that they have someone in the governor’s office who never puts himself first. With James, it is all about service to others. We need that in America, right now. We’re very proud to endorse him.”

“I was privileged to lead troops from all walks of life - we came from different places, different races and different life experiences - but we were all connected by a common thread: the desire to serve our nation, and each other. We shared a commitment - a total, complete, without reservation commitment to ensuring and sharing each other’s success,” said Smith. “The work that VoteVets performs to ensure that the issues veterans face every day are addressed and their voices are heard is incredibly important. I am incredibly honored and humbled by this endorsement.”

Smith joined the United States Army Reserve in January 1996 as a JAG officer and, in 2001, following the attacks of September 11, he resigned his commission and enlisted at age 37 in the infantry. Deploying in 2007 to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, he served as a combat advisor. Smith and his team captured the number one high-value target, Mullah Saleem, who killed more Americans and Afghans than any other Taliban commander in the region. It was Mullah Saleem who built the IED that blew up Representative Smith’s Army vehicle. During his twelve-month tour, he received the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Purple Heart. Upon return to South Carolina, Smith worked to bring two of his interpreters to the United States. While one tragically died when attempting to leave Afghanistan, the other successfully immigrated to the United States, settled in South Carolina, and now works with Smith in Columbia.

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