fresh voices from the front lines of change







Javier Adames is one of the many veterans all across the country who are volunteering to support progressive candidates in this election. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Adames lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he joined volunteers from #VetsforJess and Lancaster Stands Up to go door to door to support the candidacy of Jess King for the U.S. Congress.

I volunteer for Jess King because my background with the military has fueled a desire in me to keep serving. My dad always said that I needed to respect others like I expect others to respect me.

The political discourse of these times is what’s driving me to volunteer. Everyday people are struggling – there are a lot of people who are going bankrupt trying to pay for medical care, a lot of young people who can’t afford to go to school, because they are afraid of getting in debt, and not getting ahead. People have to hold three or four jobs to be able to pay for food, medications and all that for their families, because their wages are so low.

Wages have not kept up with the economy: the economy is growing like crazy, but only the people at the top are benefiting from it. Not the everyday people who work there their backs off, trying to get ahead.

So I believe that everybody needs a chance. And this administration, this government, is not providing that for them.

We, as a country, need to move past the differences that some politicians are creating. They’re exploiting the fact that there is there's a lot of fear, a lot of misinformation, and they're exploiting that to widen the breach in between us, the differences between people. But I believe we have more things in common that bring us together than divide us.

When I join the Navy, I joined up - probably like every other young person - because I wanted some education, and all that. So I did it for four years. But what I never thought was that in there, I would learn to share the value of what I was doing. I wasn't aware of all that value. When I became aware of the value of what I had volunteered to do, which was providing the freedoms that we all share, that's what inspired me - and I stayed for twenty years.

When I left the military, I was like well, perfect, what about now - what do I do now? One thing that has always been with me is that sense that what I was doing was defending the freedoms and the values that people have in this country.

Well, if I did it while in the service, why can’t I do it now? Am I going to stay on the couch and watch life go by? No, I'm not! Especially in time like these, with all the stuff that is going on right now, I couldn't stand by and not do anything.

That's why I go out every day, get up and go talk to people, and listen to their stories and their struggles - because politicians are not doing that. They're so busy bickering amongst themselves, and they're ignoring the people that are in the trenches, who go to work every day and they feel like nobody listens to them.

I needed to do something, and that's me doing something - going to see their faces, to make sure that they know that somebody is listening. Even if politicians don't want to go and knock at their doors, there are people willing to go on listen to them.

I believe that the work I and others who volunteer are doing is a service for this country. We all do it because we believe in what America stands for: the liberty and the freedom of the people. And most of us believe that those freedoms and these liberties are for everybody.

When I met a fellow vet on the doors, I said that when I volunteered to serve my nation, to serve America, I raised my hand not only to defend the few but everybody. That opened his eyes, and he said, “Yeah, that's exactly what I did.”

We defend everybody, not only a few.

I believe the dignity of this nation is at stake right now. When I see kids playing in the playground, mothers and dads leaving their kids at school, I think of those kids. What they going to inherit - what are we leaving for them? Are we leaving them a nation full of bigotry, full of division, fear, and all these things that are like so rampant right now in everybody's minds?

Are we leaving a nation like that?

I think not.

As a veteran, a person who has dedicated all of my life to serve this nation, I refuse to think that way. I think that those kids, those young people, deserve better. They deserve a nation that respects everybody the way they are, for what they are. It doesn't matter what color they are, or what creed they profess.

That should not define a nation. What defines a nation is how everybody treats each other.

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico – I’ve been out for almost 24 years, but my family is still there. It was very hard for me to see my family out there after Hurricane Maria - with no electricity, no food, no water, the fact that we could not go there and help them directly - and the authorities that could, failed to do that.

That destroyed me as a person. I was like, “Well, I’m sending money and I’m sending food, but nothing is getting to them.” I did not understand why all this food was getting rotten in the ports, not getting distributed to the people who actually needed it? I was always thinking of my family because they live in the mountains - they don't live in the city, in San Juan, they live on the other side of the island.

So they were always on my mind - there was no night that I did not bend a knee to pray for them, asking God that somebody would actually get to them and help them out.

Watching every night the news on every kind of media that I could get hands on that talk about Puerto Rico, it was heartbreaking for me. The fact that three thousand people died as a result of this hurricane, and the fact that the government didn’t act quickly enough to prevent all that, was heart-wrenching and it really affected me. And it has really fueled my desire to keep pushing, to get this this government to wake up to the fact that things are not the way they seem - It's not the way they are portrayed in in the television. They have to actually go to the ground level and see for themselves.

I want people to go out and open their eyes to see what is happening around them. Not everything is nice and pretty. Maybe you're in a comfortable position, or not, but there are others who are suffering, there are others that feel that nobody's there for them. I want people to go out, to listen and to bring the voices of those people out.

For those people who feel their voices are not counted, the person who will sit in the Congress will represent the people of this District ,whether you vote or not. You should find your voice, your ideas, and what you care for should be counted.

There is no way that you could actually ever say I do not agree with this if you never express your opinion. And the way you express your opinion is casting a vote. For or against, it doesn't matter - but we, as a people, need to participate in this process.

Politicians will enact laws and policies that will have effects on us in everyday life. Over use and around us. You should have your voice represented by that person that is doing all that.

That's why you should vote November 6.

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