FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Second Chances Campaign Announces Veteran Support

June 12, 2018

CONTACT: (904) 274-6091 Press@ffafd.org

Second Chances Campaign Announces Veteran Support

Amendment 4 Gives Patriots with Past Mistakes a Second Chance

Orlando, FL –Today, the Second Chances campaign announced statewide veteran support for Amendment 4. Currently, Florida is one of only four states with a lifetime ban on voting, and permanently excludes from voting 1.4 million Floridians who have served their time and paid their debts to society. Annually, about 3,000 of those Floridians who have lost their eligibility to vote are veterans that have served this country and fought for our flag. As we honor veterans from all branches of service and all walks of life this coming Flag Day, Floridians are prepared to honor veterans in November by voting YES on Amendment 4. Here’s what these veterans and returning citizens from all walks of life and all parts of the Sunshine State are saying:

Army veteran Clarence Office Jr. currently resides in Miami. He served in the military for three years and was honorably discharged. After being arrested for drug offenses, he served time in prison and paid his full debt to society. He now works with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and counsels other veterans who have encountered problems with the criminal justice system. Clarence said, “Due to offenses in the past, offenses connected to drug addiction, I am unable to vote. I have not had any legal issues for 9 to 10 years. I’ve been working, paying taxes, like everyone else. I graduated from college and have been employed for the past six years by the Department of Veterans Affairs, serving as a counselor in Veterans Court, counseling other veterans who have gotten in trouble. Despite that and my military service, my honorable discharge, I still can’t vote. Any American who has served his time should be able to vote, and especially veterans who have served their country. Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Veteran Pierry Goin is a Haitian American and currently resides in Miami-Dade County. He is a graduate of the Airforce Academy and served our country across the globe, including serving in Afghanistan. Pierry said, “When I hear that thousands of persons who can’t vote in Florida are veterans I feel personally connected to them. They are brothers and sisters who have fought, defended, served, and supported our Constitution and our rights. It hurts to think about it. It affects me personally because I can’t imagine if I made a mistake and paid my dues that I would lose that privilege and ability to vote. I’m still a citizen and so are they. Our ability to vote is our ability to speak in a democratic society.”

Veteran and returning citizen Alan Rhyelle currently resides in Sarasota County. He served in the U.S. Army and fought in Vietnam, where he was shot through the chest and was honored with a Purple Heart. He said, “I was wounded in Vietnam in 1967, shot through the chest. I was awarded the Purple Heart. I have been arrested only once during my 40 years in Florida. I have suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for decades and was arrested for marijuana. That happened about 10 years ago, but I still can’t vote. I love my country. I would do anything for my country. When a person has paid their debt to society, they should be forgiven and allowed to be a productive citizen. Veterans have defended the ability to vote around the world. We need to defend it here in Florida as well. Please vote “Yes” for Amendment 4 in November. It’s the right thing to do.”

Career Navy veteran Anne Rawley currently resides in St. Petersburg. She previously served as a nurse with assignments both stateside and overseas, including two combat-zone tours—one in Danang, Vietnam and the other in Saudi Arabia during the 1st Gulf War. Anne said, “Our men and women in uniform come back from the battlefield and the number-one priority is making home feel like home again. Some veterans have a harder time adjusting and make mistakes. But once they serve the full terms of their sentence—including parole, probation, and restitution—those men and women who kept us safe deserve second chances to earn back their eligibility to vote.”

Pernell Bush is a native Floridian and currently lives in Orlando, Florida. He served four years in the United State Marines Corps as an Infantry Rifleman. During that time, he served two years in Iraq and one humanitarian tour in Haiti. Pernell said, “Some of the people who serve in uniform return to our communities with scars from the battlefield – those scars may be invisible. Some of them may make mistakes when they return, but those mistakes shouldn’t be a mark they carry for a lifetime. When a person who has served their country has also fulfilled their debt to society, they have earned back the eligibility to vote.”

Adrian McClendon is from Jacksonville, Florida. He served in the U.S. Airforce for 6 years and the U.S. Army Reserves for 3 years, but because of a past mistake he is also a returning citizen. Adrian said, “After serving in the military and coming home, I made mistakes. I owed a debt to society, and I paid my debt for that mistake in full. I am so proud to stand with Floridians of all walks of life who believe that returning citizens and veterans like me have earned a second chance and deserve an opportunity to earn back the eligibility to vote.”

Victor Castro is an Air Force veteran with 20 years of service. While serving, he and his family also volunteered many hours within the community and earned the YMCA Family of the Year award. Victor said, “Floridians support the effort to allow their fellow Floridians, family members, and friends who’ve made past mistakes and paid their debts to society to have a second chance. Among those Floridians are thousands of veterans who, having served our country, want the opportunity to earn back the eligibility to vote. I have served alongside veterans who have made past mistakes, and I am proud to say I support Second Chances and Amendment 4.”

Retired U.S Army Colonel Mike Pheneger of Tampa served in the military for 30 years, including tours in Vietnam and the Middle East. Mike said, ”The ability to vote helps former offenders reintegrate into society. It reduces recidivism and makes it much more likely that returning citizens will become productive members of society and contribute to this country that we all know and love.”

Former member of the U.S. Army Andrew Darling of Orlando, who served two tours in Iraq—in Baghdad and Kandahar—is a recent graduate of the University of Miami School of Law. Andrew said, “I spent seven and a half years in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Iraq. Losing your eligibility to vote shouldn’t last longer than the sentence for the crime you committed. Having access to voting, the ability to vote, is fundamental to being an American and a Floridian.”

To learn more about the Second Chances Campaign, please visit www.SecondChancesFL.org

###

Pd. pol. adv. paid for by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, Inc., 3000 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Suite 503, Clearwater, FL 33759.

Next Post.

Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Second Chances Campaign Announces Veteran Support

CONTACT: (904) 274-6091 Press@ffafd.org Second Chances Campaign Announces Veteran Support Amendment 4 Gives Patriots with Past Mistakes a Second Chance Orlando, FL –Today, the Second Chances campaign announced statewide veteran support for Amendment 4. Currently, Florida is one of only four states with a lifetime ban...

Read More >
Español