Silver Star veteran on Purple Heart Trail visits Laurel

August 2, 2018

The below is reprinted with permission of The Laurel Outlook.
By Dan Burkhart

Laurel Outlook Newspaper 080218

Retired Army Captain James McCormick, along with his wife, Heather and two children, driving the Purple Heart Trail through 16 states, made a visit to the Yellowstone National Cemetery here on July 28.

Captain McCormick is a highly decorated combat veteran (Silver Star, Three Bronze Stars, and Three Purple Hearts), having served in Operation Desert Storm/Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He is an outspoken advocate for veterans and various issues impacting them. As a combat veteran and farmer he also addresses the connection between energy, agriculture, jobs, as well as combating PTSD. In fact, McCormick was also recently recognized in the “PTSD Journal” for work that he does with others who are combating PTSD.

“The Yellowstone National Cemetery is an important stop for us to make since this shows how a community can come together to honor those who have served our country so faithfully,” he said while surveying the graves and memorial. “I am hoping people across this country are aware of the sacrifices and this cemetery demonstrates the respect and honor our men and women who served deserve.”

Captain McCormick also visited Little Bighorn Battlefield and the 9/11 Memorial at City College in Billings where he toured with MSUB Interim Dean Elizabeth Fulton, herself a 20-year veteran.

An issue he focused on while in Montana, an energy-producing state, was the the importance of domestically-produced energy and its impact on the nation’s security.

“Those of us who have served the past decades while we’ve been in combat in the Middle East know the price we’re paying in lives and wounded men and women that we would not be paying if we had our own secure domestic energy,” he said.

Representing the Montana Energy Forum, which focuses on energy issues in the state, Barb Skelton accompanied Captain McCormick while he was visiting the area.

“We need to hear the voices of those who have literally been in combat to understand what the terrible consequences of 16 years of fighting means,” she said. “Captain McCormick is one of those voices highlighting the sacrifices our men and women in the military have made to protect the country.”

Skelton, who with her husband Paul Gatzemeier also runs Horses Sprits Healing, Inc. an equine therapy program for disabled and injured veterans, sees first hand the results of those sacrifices.

“So I welcome Captain McCormick because I see what he’s talking about with our veterans and I also know what he’s talking about in terms of how our energy policy affects them,” she said.

“Highlighting the sacrifices our men and women in the military have made to protect the country. Along the way Captain McCormick will is appearing at veteran-related national conventions, conducting media interviews and speaking to various audiences about America’s national energy policy and what it means to national security.“This was an important stop for us to make since this shows how a community can come together to honor those who have served our country so faithfully,” he said while surveying the graves and memorial.

Many veterans who have served in Iraq and other places in the Middle East understand the tremendous cost America has paid in treasure and blood due to energy. However, most Americans do not appreciate the real cost of energy beyond what they pay at the pump.

The value of producing more energy at home and having more supply keeps our men and women in uniform close to home instead of serving overseas protecting the energy reserves of nations that don’t share our values, the Captain believes.

At each stop in his 5,000 mile journey across America Captain McCormick will reinforce the message that producing more energy at home will help our economy, strengthen our national security and save lives.

The Purple Heart Trail was established in 1992 by the Military Order of the Purple Heart to be a symbolic trail throughout all 50 states to commemorate and honor all men and women who have been wounded or killed in combat while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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