Veterans Speak Out to Protect Endangered Species

Members of the veterans community traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet their representatives and voice their concerns about the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

This is a transcript of the video.

Mike Jarnevic, Piltzville, Montana: I'm a veteran. I did 42 years in the U.S. military, in both the Marines and Army Special Forces, from Vietnam to Afghanistan. And many of the endangered species have become spiritual animals to me, in particular, the grizzly bear.

Gabrielle “Brie” d’Ayr, Las Vegas: I believe that the Endangered Species Act is critically important to our survival as a species on the planet. I think it's an issue that's not getting talked about enough, and, in particular, veterans have a very unique perspective on this that doesn't get a lot of airplay, that I think really needs to be brought into the light more.

Joseph Colbert, Brunswick, Georgia: I'm a veteran. I've always been interested in what benefits America—not just the people, but our country as a whole. I grew up an outdoorsman, and I hunted and fished and stuff like that. Making sure that those habitats, those species that call this nation home, should continue to be here.

d’Ayr: Public lands are a really important part of the coming home process. My brothers and sisters who have served in the military have done so in service of this country and its people. When we go overseas, sometimes that coming home process is a little traumatic, a little turbulent. There are a lot of different reasons that being able to go into those wild places is actually settling for us. It helps us re-center.

Jarnevic: For my military experience, especially in combat zones, species such as that were very important to me because they were something that I looked up to and gave me comfort when I was in dire straits in combat.

d’Ayr: It's also really important to know that the things that we were off fighting for are still here, they still matter, and we've done a good thing by protecting them.

Jonas Rides at the Door, Missoula, Montana: Because of my military service, I like to come out here and fight for the things that I think are right and just. It's a continuation of my service to this country. Part of the Blackfeet Nation, located up there bordering the Canadian border and Glacier National Park, I would say I come from one of the most beautiful places in the world. I think the Endangered Species Act is paramount in protecting the entire environment, not only the species and plants that get protection under it. But then I believe it's all interconnected, even, you know, with us—we're a part of that.

Colbert: I think there's a moral responsibility we have to keep species alive. We definitely don't want to roll back any of the benefits the Endangered Species Act provides. I don't like the idea of anything that weakens those kinds of protections for our wildlife.

Rides at the Door: I feel grateful that I come from a country that thinks highly of species and plants and animals, and puts laws into place like the Endangered Species Act.

Jarnevic: I recognized years ago that these species are just as important as we are.

Colbert: I wouldn't want my daughter to say that "my daddy's generation was the one that lost this species or that species." I want her to say "thankfully, they did a good job keeping those things here."

d’Ayr: From the perspective of being in service of this country, and in service of the American Dream, this is part of that dream.

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