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A Leader To Heal Our Country

Every morning for the last 30 plus years, I’ve been proud to serve as a law enforcement officer - with the Winchester and Keene Police Department and now as the Sheriff of Cheshire County.

However, in recent years, in addition to my badge, I’ve been carrying a growing sense of concern for my community. We've been waging a battle against substance misuse disorders and facing a mental health care crisis. My deputies and I, and law enforcement officers nationwide have been on the frontlines trying to help our neighbors, undergoing training to help those with mental health challenges and substance misuse disorders, and continue to do our best to confront this crisis.

However, overdose and overdose deaths continue to rise -- and unfortunately, we see the same people cycle in and out of the system. Sometimes it feels like we’re just putting a small bandaid over a bleeding artery. There’s something seriously wrong with this approach on a much deeper level in our community and our country: as if we have lost a sense of purpose in a rapidly changing world.

These challenges cannot be solved by law enforcement officers alone -- they cut to the core of our nation and what it means to be American, they need to be addressed from the highest office in the land. Our country may be in a crisis, but I have hope in Pete Buttigieg. He is bringing people together from every walk of life to solve our most significant challenges. When politicians in Washington seem more interested in fighting with each other, Pete is fighting to unite us.

You can see that in his national service plan. Like me, Pete served in our nation’s military, so he understands the power of service to bring people together around a shared purpose. By calling for the creation of a million paid service positions each year, he’s offering young people a chance to serve their country and give them a sense of purpose at a time when it’s missing for too many. Also, by coming together, we can start to heal our communities from within. For a lot of us that sense of purpose defines who we are, and our belief in service above self is our driving force.

You can see this same approach with his healthcare plan - Medicare For All Who Want It. Pete understands the urgent need to ensure every American has health care, but he’s doing it in a way that doesn’t force them to give up their insurance. He’s giving us a choice, and a clear path to universal coverage - but without forcing millions off their insurance plans.

Also, you can see it in how he treats everyone with respect, compassion, and dignity, regardless of who they are or where they are in life’s journey. As the only Hispanic Sheriff in New Hampshire history, I appreciate that Pete is calling for common-sense immigration reform, and offering a path to citizenship to those fleeing violence, while still protecting our nation.

Underlying all of his plans is this set of core values. Yes, he has put forth the most comprehensive plan to address the heart of the mental health and addiction crisis, connecting the dots between overdose deaths and mental health, and empowering communities to address their unique challenges. However, more than the extensiveness of his plan, Pete understands to heal; we must ensure everyone feels like they belong in their community and our country.

For all these reasons and more, I’m proud to support Pete Buttigieg for President of the United States. With Pete, we have a chance to unite our country around our shared values and work together to overcome our most significant challenges. I want to look back and remember this election as the time we all came together to overcome our most significant challenges before it was too late.

Eli Rivera is a retired Keene Police Lieutenant and a veteran of the US Coast Guard and US Army Reserve. He is currently serving his fourth term as the Sheriff of Cheshire County.

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