Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Sydney Yalshevec
Reporter 

Colonel Tom Brewer gunning for congressional seat

 

For the Observer

Col. Tom Brewer.

Colonel Tom Brewer served thirty-six years in the military. During that time, he served in Desert Storm, was shot six times during an ambush, worked with CENTCOM to stop the trafficking of drugs through central Asia amd was selected to command the first task force to arrive in New Orleans in Response to Hurricane Katrina. His task force rescued 604 individuals in 30 days. During a tour of duty on December 16, 2011, his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and he was injured. Despite the work he put into getting rehabilitated in order to return to active duty, he still had to retire due to medical complications.

"I couldn't serve my country on the battlefield anymore so I decided to serve it this way, by running for Congress 3rd District," Brewer said.

Brewer grew up near Gordon, Nebraska. Throughout his school career, he participated in sports such as basketball, football, and track. He also held offices in student government as well as the Future Farmers of America.

On December 27, 1977, Brewer enlisted in the Nebraska Army National Guard. His love for his country was encouraged and instilled in him by his father, Ross Brewer. Ross Brewer served in the Ranger Company in the Korean War, and the pride he had in serving his country was transferred to his son, Tom Brewer.

In 1984, Brewer married Kelli Young. Together they have two children who followed in their parents' footsteps, concerning serving their country. Kelli Brewer is a retired Chief Warrant Officer 3. Brewer's children also "wear the uniform". Travis, 24, serves in the Nebraska Guard National Guards's 67th BFSB, while he completes his education at Doane College. Brewer's daughter Kalee, 20, is a junior at Chadron College, as well as a MS III ROTC cadet.

"In my family, we all wear the uniform, and that's very important," Brewer said.

Brewer has several issues that he would like to address on his plate, one of which is an issue he holds near and dear, that of the treatment of veterans.

"Well what I'm hearing from the veterans as I'm traveling around is it seems to be more vocal with the panhandle veterans more than anywhere, but across the board the veterans are upset because the government had promised them certain benefits for their service and a lot of those are being taken away or they are being reduced. They're getting frustrated because they don't have a voice," Brewer said.

Brewer explained his concern about the closing of the Veteran's facility in Hot Springs, a facility that he describes as one of the nicest in the area. Apparently, it is rather difficult for veterans to get the care they need outside of a place designated for their care. Brewer would like to see the Hot Springs location remain open as well as see the benefits promised to the veterans given to them. Brewer is very clear about what he expects to see concerning the veterans.

"As far as the veterans go, holding the government responsible to their word as far as what they had promised them making sure that we don't take away the facilities that they need for the proper healthcare," Brewer said.

Another veterans related issue that Brewer talked about was that of the ability of the services provided to veterans to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD). He explains how the VA and other veteran's services haven't gotten a hold on it until recently.

"The other part concerning veterans is, just because we are only starting to really get a handle on the PSTD, there are a lot of individuals who have fallen through the cracks during that ten year window when everyone was figuring things out, and they're going back and they're trying to do things and I think the VA is tenfold better than they've ever been in the past about actually taking care of the veterans," Brewer said.

Brewer explained that he felt it was difficult for some veterans to acclimate to civilian life.

"Unfortunately, they get a stigma with them and that will negatively effect whether or not they get a job. Also, they don't keep normal hours and many have trouble adhering to a regular schedule. However, that's when it's important for them to go to their Veteran's Service Officer. The VSO can help them understand what options they have concerning healthcare and possibly job opportunities," Brewer said.

Brewer wants to make sure that there are jobs for the veterans returning home, but he also wants to make sure there are jobs for the citizens already here.

"I believe agriculture is a part of the back bone of our culture and society. I plan on making sure that the farmers get the things they need for success," Brewer said.

Brewer is also interested in making Nebraska a place where the "best and the brightest" return to raise their families.

"It's important to come back here to Nebraska. Especially if you're a politician. You need to see what the voters want. That's what your job is about. The current Congressman of the 3rd District, Adrian Smith, has spent several years trying to stay in Washington. I've spent a lot of years trying to get back to Nebraska. I think it's important to encourage others to do so as well," Brewer said.

With the hope of returning native Nebraskans, Brewer shared his aspirations for the Nebraska education system.

"They want to have a core curriculum for the entire nation. That's not going to help. Every area of the country is different. They might lower the curriculum for the students that are more behind, but what about the students that need a challenge and are only expected to meet a certain standard. If we set the bar low, that's what they'll achieve," Brewer said.

Brewer believes that the current way that education works is for the best, leaving it to local school districts to decide their curriculum.

"Nebraska has some of the best schools in the country. I think that we should leave it up to the individual school boards and superintendents to decide what kind of curriculum is best suited for the children of their area," Brewer said.

He stated the importance of instilling patriotism and family values in the children of America.

"Children need to see what a respectful home looks like and runs like. I think that these family values of respect are sorely lacking. I think that good people and good leaders start from a decent and strong family upbringing," Brewer said.

Brewer also indicated that it was his goal when raising his family, to provide not only his own children with the values he talked about, but also to set an example for his kids' friends.

"We can have an influence and impact on those around us. So if we can have a good and positive influence on someone, I think it's our duty to do so," Brewer said.

As a result of Brewer's love for his home state, he plans to limit his term as a congressmen.

"I believe it was the intent of the Founding Fathers for someone to come in, serve their term, make a difference, and then allow someone with a fresh perspective of the needs of the people to go in and take over," Brewer said.

Brewer said that Adrian Smith is a career politician. He believes that Smith won't return to Nebraska if not re-elected. He assumes that he'll try to get another job in Washington, possibly as a lobbyist.

"I think that Adrian has failed the Nebraska people. He hasn't fought for them on the issues that count. He has voted the way he was told to in Washington and has lost sight of what is important," Brewer said.

Brewer's passionate pleas to have Smith engage in a debate "anytime, anywhere" have gone virtually unanswered at this point. However, Brewer is still trying to go head to head with the congressman.

"I hope he will debate me, I have a lot of questions I'd like to ask him in person. If he doesn't answer soon, I'll be seeing him when I go with my father to the ceremony for the Korean War Veterans. I plan to reach out to him again then," Brewer said.

Whether or not Smith accepts the debate is not of a huge concern to Brewer, who feels like either way Smith decides it will be of benefit to himself.

"If Adrian accepts, great, I get to ask him the tough questions. If he doesn't, there's a reason. That reason is he knows that he's been failing his people and doesn't want to 'fess up to it," Brewer said.

Brewer has other issues of which he stands strongly on one side. He comes up on the side of Pro-Life concerning issues regarding the unborn. He believes it is important to protect the sanctity of life that is a "gift from the heavenly father". He also opposes gay marriage,but he realizes that is something of a personal preference and does recognize that his personal beliefs on the issue do not make it a threat to the nation's well being. He also shows concern for the events in Benghazi and is on the side of wanting a more thorough investigation. Something he believes that needed to be fought for.

Brewer also shared his concern for the national budget. He is upset by the raising of the debt cap and shared concern that once it reaches a certain point the debt will be out of control. The American dollar will mean nothing to other countries and America won't be able to maintain status as a world power.

"There is a lack of real leadership in Washington. If you compare mine and Adrian's resumes, my leadership skills far exceed his. In the military, you receive a budget and it is your job to provide for your men with that budget. If you fail to do that, you're gone. I believe that the men who have failed to keep down the national debt don't belong there anymore," Brewer said.

Brewer is confident that he has a lot to offer if elected to 3rd district.

"I have experience in leadership and fighting. I will fight for what I think is best for Nebraska and the people I represent. I won't be swayed and won't back down," Brewer said.

Brewer said again that he hopes to hear from Adrian Smith on whether or not they'll be debating. Brewer doesn't plan on backing down and has, at this point, put the ball in Smith's court.

 

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